Dealing with Bullies: Kids and Cruelty

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Children are often cruel. I certainly remember, growing up as a geek-in-training, the occasional bout with schoolyard bullies. And while I never actively joined in tormenting those poor souls even less "accepted" than myself, I also rarely went out of my way to defend them.

Dr. Steven Parker discusses the "tribalism" of kids in his most recent blog article, and recalls dealing with it in his own childhood:

"I was, after all, a kid and – let’s be clear-eyed about this – kids can be incredibly cruel. Differences in others are inherently threatening, mandating excommunication from the tribe of peers, to be avoided at all costs, lest you too be perceived as weird and banished. It is such peer culture (not peer pressure) that rules the world."

Parker’s article was brought on by a recent news story from Florida where school teacher Wendy Portillo polled her five year old students on whether or not to expel one of their classmates. The story is available online.

While all parents have to deal with issues of bullying—either as parent to the bully or to the bullied—I think most geekparents have a unique perspective on the subject. While I’ve learned to embrace my pastimes and damn the naysayers, there’s still a part of me that remembers what it was like to be a kid, when fitting in with everyone else seemed the most effective way of avoiding the bullies at recess.

Is it possible to pass this self-assurance on to children so that they don’t feel like they need to worry about being different? Or is it something that they’ll need to learn on their own?

How do you deal with the bullies and the bullied?

Via Healthy Children blog

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