Bullying is something that touches the heart of almost every mother.  Recently, I asked my friend, colleague and bullying expert Kary Valdes, LCSW her thoughts on bullying.

1. Bullying has become a constant topic in the news over the past few years. As a child and adolescent therapist, what do you think moms need to know about bullying?

I think that everyone needs to realize that Bullying is not going away. It has been around since the beginning of time and is part of human behavior. Bullying happens in all aspects of life, not just in schools. It happens in church, at the ball park, in your office, at your job, with your partner, with your children, in government, in politics, in families and so on. Bullying is something that we can learn how to handle and manage as it is part of all aspects of life.

2. What signs can moms look for in their child or his/her behavior to determine if bullying is taking place, especially for the kids that tend to be more reserved?

School refusal  would be the obvious sign. Then there can be stomach issues, tearfulness, agitation, not sleeping,anxiety, etc. These can also be symptoms of other things and the parent would have to rule out any medical issues first.

3. We know to not overlooked or ignore bullying.  What would you say to moms that may feel cautious to be seen as overprotective and still want to be their child’s advocate?

They need to be led by the child. Some children are aware that things will get worse if parents, teachers, and other school officials are involved. Rescuing kids implies that they cannot handle it and supports that they are a victim. Coaching kids on how to respond to bullying, nurturing them and encouraging them is the best way to start.

4. Is there a solution to bullying?

Yes there is!! The solution to bullying is the Golden Rule. Treat others the way you would want to be treated. This begins in the home at a young age and is fostered by parents.

5. We often talk about the child that is being bullied or the victim, but not enough about the one that is actually what some would consider, “ the Bully.”  What thoughts do you have on why some kids become the bully?

We would first have to define bullying. Bullying in today’s terms means several things…any words that may cause uncomfortable feelings to another person,teasing, joking, the class clown is now a bully, anything negative about anyone,comedians. There is also a difference between bullying behavior and criminal behavior. Rape is criminal behavior, assault is criminal behavior, stealing is criminal behavior and should be handled as a crime.

The focus is actually on the response of the victim to the bullying. The victims are the ones shooting the schools, the victims are hurting themselves. It is the response the victims have to bullying that is in the news.

Bullies unfortunately are you and me, it’s our children that are verbally attacking another child for being homosexual. They are not criminals: they are “mean.”  We as parents role model appropriate and inappropriate behaviors to our children not by our words but by our actions.

We know that children who are abused in their homes by someone that is supposed to care for them may be more inclined to bully others than those that are not abused. Children that are struggling to survive in their own lives feel less. When interviewed most “bullies” feel like they are the ones being bullied. Everyone feels like the victim. Especially since schools are switching from institutions for education to police states.  Now the teachers, principles, other students and other school faculty are bullying anyone they may believe to be a bully. (Interesting contradiction)

The policies we have to reduce and eliminate bullying actually have fostered more bullying by those who would have never in the past behaved that way, i.e. teachers and other educators.

Zero Tolerance for Bullying in schools has failed. It has actually failed several times. Schools continue to adopt this policy because they feel they have no other solutions that work.

What resources would you recommend to moms about bullying?

I recommend Bullies to Buddies developed by Izzy Kalman.

Parent Talk with Kary  and contacting me at  www.karyvaldeslcsw.com


  • Lori

    Great info and a different perspective than the media promotes.