Making Home Safe Again
By Jamie Mehok, licensed Professional Counselor - October 2018
The days of school yard bullies, bloody noses, and black eyes have begun to shift to a new environment. While the battle remains the same, the battlefield has shifted from being primarily in the schools to the safety of the home. Where the wounds shift from the physical to internal hemorrhages. This shift also changes the lasting effects, where one was limited to time and space is now unavoidable due to the Internet and social media. These are the wounds that many therapists attend to on a daily basis. They not only affect a student's learning ability, concentration, and school attendance, but they also affect the way a student views him/herself within the community. In a society of "pick yourself up by your bootstraps," or "suck it up buttercup," adolescents and teenagers are taught to minimize the posts, comments, and direct messages they are receiving; internalizing their feelings and thoughts which later come back to haunt them.
Change has begun in this area, by acknowledging that it is happening and becoming proactive in schools and in homes. Three ways to become proactive in your home include: teaching your child to become assertive, standing their ground and setting boundaries. Every social media site, app, and video game contains a blocking feature; by helping your child set boundaries with the bullies will in turn increase their self-esteem and willingness to be assertive in the future. Another tool is to continually educate yourself on warning signs of bullying as well as how to protect your children online. Through many studies and articles, it has been noted that 63% of students will not tell an adult that they are being bullied. Therefore, it is up to us to ensure our children’s safety inside and outside of the home. Finally, the biggest tool you have as an adult in the community is the ability to listen; stopping bullying when you witness it, and then listening to the child to help them work through their emotions rather than internalizing them. Bullying will not end overnight, however with adults becoming more available and attentive to the children around them we make our homes safe again.