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Basic Lessons from Phoebe Prince Case and other Bullying Tragedies

By June 11, 2010 No Comments

The name of this blog is Tangled Ball because bullying is a tangled mess. EVERY incident is caused by multiple factors: the personalities of the kids involved; the method — whether it’s physical, verbal, mental, emotional, online or offline; the school climate; the involvement of parents; or the involvement of the principal, teachers and/or other adults.

Sometimes complicated problems can only be solved one string at a time.

Let’s start with the last one: other adults.

First step: we need to cut each other some slack. Adults are not mind readers. It’s tough to know what to do. Our culture is moving away from the concept that a village raises a child. What does that mean? Sometimes an adult feels like it’s not their place to reach out to a child or teen that is not their own.

This blog post is giving you permission.

It’s back to the basics because experts say that when an adult is interested in the welfare of a child, parent or not, it makes a big difference. (And we don’t really need experts to tell us this because if we look back in our own childhoods, we know it’s true.) So instead of looking at it as a negative, it’s a positive. It doesn’t hurt to ask a child or teen, “Is everything ok?” Simple as that. And then LISTEN. Just sit and listen. Show that you’re listening by asking a follow up question. Don’t be in a hurry. Don’t have an opinion. Unless the opinion is, “You deserve to be treated well.”

It’s almost impossible to know the right thing to say. But that doesn’t mean we can’t care. It also doesn’t mean that we can’t help that child talk to the school counselor or someone who may have more of the answers, even the parents.

Kids should not feel alone. That’s when all the pain becomes too dangerous.

So if anyone is reading this today, be on the lookout for kids who might need someone to ask the question, “Is everything ok?” We’ll never regret caring.