I had a chance to hear Barbara Coloroso speak about bullying last week. She has so much great stuff to say on the topic, but one point stayed with me that I really wanted to share with others. One of the key strategies to defusing a bully is to get the bystanders to speak up and support the target. After all, few of our children will be bullies or targets–but the vast majority of our children will be bystanders. Will they watch passively? Will they cheer on the bully with their laughter and taunt safely from the side lines? Or will they say, “NOT COOL, DUDE.”
If you want your child to speak up as a bystander, then you have to model that. Ask yourself, how do I respond when someone at work or a party or a family gathering makes racist comment? A sexist joke or says fag?
Do YOU speak up? Or do you laugh uncomfortably? When others tell you, “Lighten up–it’s just a joke,” do you say, “That is not funny, and it’s not okay”?
If we expect our teens to have the intestinal fortitude to say, “Not cool dude,” I think we had better start saying it ourselves.