Imagine this: Your teenage daughter is at a party. You thought the parents were home, but later find out they were out part of the evening. During their absence, a bully threatens your under age daughter who by this time is feeling sick from drinking too many beers and is in the bathroom, leaning over the toilet. The bully, a girl she has had intimidate her before, walks in and threatens that if she doesn’t take this pill she hands her, she will make sure that your daughter looses her friends. A terrible situation. Right? Unbelievable? No. In fact, teens endure various combinations of being bullied all the time. Nowadays bullies are more blatant, hurtful and dangerous that a generation or two ago.
Why you may ask. The answer is complicated. Certainly one reason is that social media makes it possible to bully someone 24/7. This means that there is no real down time for kids. Many often they feel watched and talked about even during the night.
In this film clip https://vimeo.com/269770320 you see the bathroom bully played by Rachel Gesner and the girl, thankfully not your daughter, played by Megan Brown. Let’s imagine ahead a bit. Even if the girl figures out a way not to swallow the pill, by morning she may find that many of her friends have taken sides, due to the bully reports on social media. Perhaps some side with the bully. The girl may wake up to find herself isolated socially. Once out there, reputations can be damaged no matter how far from the truth the supposed ‘truth’ is.
What do you think ‘the girl’ in the film clip does? Does she swallow the drug?
What happens later? Does the ‘bully’ do anything else to her or does she believe
‘the girl’ swallows the drug and lets her off the hook this time?
What can any of us do to help our kids, whether our child or grandchild is the bully or the good kid?
Here are some suggestions:
1. Help your child recognize that she is special. Praise talents and encourage real strengths. Help her appreciate their heritage, and share with her your history, mistakes, successes and positive values. Make little of her failings whenever possible.
2. Help her develop her talents, strengths and potential. Maybe no one in your family wanted to play the oboe, but she wishes to and hates sports. Listen to what works for her or her and help on that path. There are plenty of other kids who can do whatever your child would prefer not to.
3. Spend time with her everyday. Get to know her friends. If your home can be a place for kids to come and relax at it will give you a great window into your daughter’s reality.
4. Spend private conversational time with her where you can ask about bullying, how school is going, her concerns, etc.
5. If she is having a problem with another girl or several kids stay on top of the situation. Ask her if she wants you to intercede or not. If she can handle it great. But stay on top of the situation and make clear you will intercede if necessary. After all, you are the parent. You are her protector and that must be honored by both of you.