October is “Bully Prevention” month, and it seems the topic of bullying has appeared in many headlines lately. In the last week, there have been at least two teen suicides attributed to cyber bullying that I am aware of. There is little doubt; this is an issue which should be on the forefront of parental discussions. However, to properly address the issue, it becomes necessary to define properly what the issue is, and what it is not.
A recent report by Fox News highlights a Texas parent’s complaint of bullying, in which he has accused a local high school coach of “unsportsmanlike conduct” for allowing his football team to pummel their opponents 91-0. It just so happens the complainant’s son was on the defeated team. The full report from Fox News of the incident can be seen by clicking here.
I will be the first to say, I would hate for my son to get beat 91-0 in any competition, but the question which should surface amongst us as a result of this accusation is: “Does this incident qualify as an act of bullying? If so, why?
It surely cannot be because one team lost. Anyone who has ever played a sport and never expected to lose at some point is delusional. Could it be because of the major point difference between the two teams? Should the game have been ended by a mercy rule? If the accused coach’s statements are correct, he placed the third string in the game, and is it right keeps the kids on the winning team from playing because the other team was getting beat so badly? It seems both teams had the same opportunity to practice, prepare, and both were willing participates in a competition.
I think it is a bit juvenile for the psychologist in the above interview to tribute President Obama with the complete responsibility of creating a “victim culture” in the United States. However, for the sake of our children we have to ask, “Do we victimize our kids?”
If I teach my son or daughter to blame every failure, trail, circumstance, or hurtful event in their lives on someone else, I make them a victim. And by doing so, I will have pushed them into a corner of entitlement, robbed them of an opportunity to learn as navigate coping emotionally and relationally with their environment, and will ultimately communicate to them, “You are weak and unable of functioning self-sufficiently.”
The right response for a parent whose child finds themselves at the receiving end of a 91-0 loss should not victimize their child by creating a false facade, leading them to believe somehow they were bullied. Instead, the child should be affirmed for not quitting, showing strength while facing defeat, and encouraged to continue to fight well in all circumstances.
If we allow this one event to be defined as bullying, then everything in our children’s life could be defined as some form of bullying. If parents continue to make victims out of their children, instead of helping guide and affirming them through trail and failure…then we are the real bully.
Add to the discussion. What is your definition of bullying? Could the above incident be defined as bullying? Do you feel like we are developing a “victim culture” in our society and if so, how is it affecting our children?