David: I remember, as a child, being bullied one day, and I came home with a black eye. My dad taught me how to defend myself and hit the other person, if necessary. I know that was a different era, but do you still recommend that to parents today?
Kathy: It does help to know some martial arts. But they should only be used as a last resort. There are many law suits today due to kids using their skills to "show off" what they've learned. Martial Arts were originally developed, to be used after a more peaceful means of settling the situation have failed. That is what my book is about.
David: Kathy, here are some audience questions:
karen_river: We have a bully who lives behind us and is in my daughter's class, again this year. They are both 9 years old. He's constantly putting her down, degrading her, acting like he knows everything and she is stupid. She does, at times, want to play with him. Sometimes, and at moments, he can be nice to her. What can she do or say to him when he acts like this? I feel she needs to stand up for herself (her beliefs), but his comments/remarks really bother her. Thanks.
Kathy: Make sure she knows she's OK. Explain to her how the bully is the one with the problem. He has low self-esteem and feels pretty bad about himself. Putting others down - he thinks - will make himself feel better. Don't mistake arrogance for a high self-esteem. You could help her work on acceptable responses such as "why are you treating me this way? I never did anything to you."
David: What if the bully continues to taunt a child. What do you recommend for dealing with that?
Kathy: You should then, keep your child away from that child, or have a talk with the bully's parents.
David: And that brings the question, when do you think it's right for the parents to get involved in any bully situation?
Kathy: Most bullying takes place on school grounds. There, the kids are the teacher's responsibility, although many feel their only job is to teach. However, there are also many loving and caring teachers who want to get involved, and they need to be told and get involved to stop these incidences. If the teachers won't do anything to help, you can file a police report.
schmidt85: How do you "make sure" she knows she's OK? For junior high kids, that is almost an impossibility if they are on the receiving end of the bully stuff. The "bully" is the one with the self-confidence, and in my experience, the one whose parents allow and encourage that type of behavior.
Kathy: Generally, parents of bullies fall into two categories: They are either very permissive and allow their kids to get away with anything, or they are very abusive. Again, don't mistake arrogance for high self-esteem. Many studies have shown bullies have a low self-esteem. If they appear the opposite, it is an act; a show they put on. Again, their main goal is to control.
David: That's an interesting point that Schmidt85 brings up. Is the bully kid receiving "approval" from his/her parents to be a bully, so he continues on with his bully behavior?
Kathy: That is quite possible. All cases are individual and as unique as people are. But yes, many bully kids also have bully parents. Most of the time you don't know, or you won't admit, that you are a bully.
sunnstar: My parents talked to the bully's parents, and the bullies even bullied me more. How do you deal with that kind of situation?
Kathy: Yeah, many times a bully will come back at you harder for "snitching" on them. Again, since most of the bullying takes place on school grounds, you must get the teachers/principal involved. They need to keep an eye on situations like that. Again, if they don't, people need to file police reports.
David: Here are a couple of audience comments, then we'll continue with the questions:
momof7: I would agree with the low self-esteem issue. They feel important when they can put down others.
sunnstar: I believe it is true because the parents of my bullies, abused me more, and then started treating my parents badly too.
Rich005: I was wondering if there were studies on adults who were bullied earlier in life. I was bullied in elementary school and high school. Quite an unhappy time. I'm wondering if there are any residual side-effects that we can have later in life, even after the bullying has ended?
Most of those people started out as victims and remained victims throughout their adult life. Both of these books are available through my web site as Dr. Carter is also my co-author of "Taking the Bully by the Horns".
David: What about the idea of "ignoring" the bully and, if the bully is engaging in verbal bullying, just not responding.
Kathy: Yes, that works. If the bullying is verbal, sometimes it's best to either ignore it, because if they aren't getting a rise out of you, it is not fun for them anymore. Or if you laugh along with them at what they are saying, again, it's not working for them, it's not fun for them, and they will probably move onto someone else.
David: What does the bully get out of bullying?
Kathy: There could be any number of things. Let's say a bully has a large nose. He may "bully" someone else who has glasses because he wants to distract from himself. Sometimes a bully bullies because he started out as a victim and feels if he/she becomes the "bully", he can no longer be hurt by anyone ever again. Or so he thinks.