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The Issue of Bullying Begins with Parenting

Bully or bullied? Either way, it's a big problem.

The Issue of Bullying Begins with Parenting The Issue of Bullying Begins with Parenting

My name is Ryan Cox. Normal enough, I suppose.

But from a bully’s perspective, that’s a field day. I’m not just named after a particular part of the male anatomy, but its plural form ... so, all of them.

That little joke is actually how I handled the little bit of bullying I grew up with in Clawson. Whether I was forced to develop a sense of humor because of the bullying threat or it was an inevitable trait in my personality, either way, it eased the problem until it wasn’t one anymore.

Bullies are looking for a reaction, but when that reaction comes back positive and more clever than their own attacks, it can throw them for a loop, especially when it gets a response from others. In my case, it seemed to flip the coin on the bullies I had to deal with, making teasing me more of a threat than it was worth.

But that could also get someone punched in the face — also a situation I had to deal with.

The single fight of my entire life was in the third grade. There was a bully who was physically and emotional abusive to, well, everyone. He especially picked on younger kids as he was in fifth grade — the kings of elementary school.

One day, he was picking on some kids in my grade during lunch recess, and something inside me said "enough is enough." Suddenly, I was standing in front of a fellow third-grader, pointing a finger at the bully and telling him to back off and leave everyone alone.

At first he was shocked — wide-eyed and uncertain. Then, cornered, he threw a punch at my face. I dodged the punch as it went over my shoulder and grabbed his wrist; I twisted my whole body and pulled down on his arm and tossed him over my shoulder like I was swinging a laundry bag onto the ground.

The little scrap was broken up by the staff at within a few seconds. I was cheered on by fellow students. I never had a problem with that boy again.

But though there is a glint of pride in that story, I still feel guilty knowing what I know now. Especially because that boy went on to see the inside of a juvenile detention center a few years later. And the last I heard, prison, too.

I don't want that for anyone. I want to see them given the opportunities to change, or to never have had to feel they needed to bully in the first place.

But every bully and bullying situation is unique, even if most bullies share plenty of characteristics.

Whether they do or don't know how to deal with situations, bullying is something most parents are always concerned about. Especially those parents who were bullied themselves.

Between media and technology, we are more informed about bullying and bullies than ever. Media and technology are big factors in the evolution of our society, lending themselves to preparing and educating parents and children alike for more and more of life’s issues.

But just as those factors help protect and inform, they also lend themselves to new ways of bullying. The cyberbully is a serious concern of today.

The only way we’ll ever stamp out bullying (though I doubt it can ever be defeated completely) is through the minds of our future generations. Teaching tolerance, understanding and developing and supporting confidence in uniqueness from the beginning, as well as gaining a better understanding of the psychology of “the bully,” will, hopefully, minimize the need for bullying before a child finds himself acting out in such ways.

But evolution takes time. So, today, the best advice is to absorb the relevant information you can and try to teach your kids preventive measures and ways to diffuse bullying if it happens.

And never be afraid to turn the light on yourself. Ask yourself if you’re creating a bully by your own actions. Does your child see you as placing fighting over nonviolent resolutions? Road rage? Are you causing your child to passive-aggressively act out to those he or she perceives as weaker because of emotions that stem from your relationship? These are hard questions to ask, but in many cases, may be where the problem stems from.

In any case, there is plenty of or online (such as this anti-bullying government site) to keep you up to date and ready for the drama of “the bully.”

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