Bullying myths parents believe, that make recovery so much harder!
MYTH: Bullying causes irrepairable damage to my son.
Our culture in an ineffective attempt to reduce bullying has broadcasted that bullying causes irrepairable damage. Bullying definitely causes damage, but kids can recover from the damage and be stronger for the experience. By declaring that bullying causes your repairable damage, we are giving our kids a victim mindset that makes it more likely they will experience bullying in the future and it makes it more difficult for them to be themselves positively. The truth is that bullying does cause damage to your child, but your child can overcome those negative events and come out stronger, more compassionate, and more determined to make a difference then they ever used to be before the bullying events happened.
MYTH: My son is powerless in the face of this bullying
This myth gives our son a victim mindset, which almost guarantees that the bullying will continue. While it is accurate that our son has been unable to protect himself during bullying events that have occurred, we need to be clear that in future situations, he always has options and there are steps that he can take to prevent some bullying. There are also steps your son can take during a bullying incident or after it to improve things and to hold bullies accountable for their actions. As soon as we declare that our son has no power it’s dangerous, because if he believes that he has no power than he probably has no power. It’s self-fulfilling.
MYTH: We should expect the bully to apologise to the victim (Very controversial)
Bullies generally don’t care about how others feel. Forcing them into an apology situation that they don’t mean will not help your son. An apology is just words, not a consequence. It would be ideal if bullies face consequences, not words. Expecting that in a school setting a bully will apologise to a victim, and mean it, is setting an unrealistic expectation. It is a shortcut to teaching your son that life is not fair and your son has no power. We are better off setting more helpful, realistic expectations such as:
- You can go to school and be with some good friends and feel safe.
- There will always be bullies, but you can put things in place to stop yourself being a victim of bullies.
I understand that this is very controversial, and of course in a perfect world all bullies would apologise to victims all the time, but because your son lives in the real world where that is not going to happen, we are better off having realistic expectations.
Dealing with your own anger at what happened to your son
MYTH: Bullies usually get away with it unpunished! It’s unfair!
In the short term, this is true. In the long term, bullies are usually punished… by themselves. Most bullies grow into adults who have almost no empathy for others, are self-absorbed, self-centred and unable to make healthy, long-term friendships and relationships work. Their aggression and inability to deal with life’s challenges mean that they are effectively emotionally crippled and unable to progress in their careers, relationships, finances and other areas. Occasionally, bullies can change into healthy, caring adults, but it’s not very common. So don’t worry about getting revenge for your child. The bully will not really get away with it in the long term.