One of the things many parents worry about is bullying. Parents of kids who are bullied worry because they abhor the thought of anyone harming their children, emotionally or physically, and rightfully so. But make no mistake, there are plenty of parents whose kids are the bullies. and they worry about how their kids are treating other kids, and people in general.
So, it’s fair to say that when it comes to parents who worry about bullying, there’s plenty of that worry to go around. And, like adult bullying (and there is plenty of that to go around as well), exactly how, how much, or how often bullying occurs varies significantly by demographics.
In 2015, the Pew Research Center analyzed statistics nationally from varied sources in eight different areas. Those areas were:
- Getting shot
- Getting in trouble with the law
- Teen pregnancy
- Drug and alcohol use
- Getting beat up
- Being bullied
All eight categories could easily, in one form or another, have a direct correlation to the last one listed, “being bullied.” In general, the study revealed some broad conclusions:
Low-income parents, for instance, are more concerned about teen pregnancy and their kids getting in trouble with the law than are higher-income parents. Black parents are more likely than white parents to worry about their children being shot, while white parents are more likely than black parents to worry that their children will struggle with anxiety or depression. Hispanic parents worry more than black or white parents about all eight measures we asked about, from being bullied to having problems with drugs or alcohol (a trend driven primarily by foreign-born Hispanics, who tend to have lower incomes and less education).
The study goes into much greater detail, of course. The Pew Research Center also prefaces their study with the reality digging up accurate data on bullying is an exceptionally difficult task. Topics that involve the many forms of bullying are sometimes more difficult to extract accurately and depend greatly on family and ethnic culture, geographical location, and perhaps most importantly, the willingness of the bullied or the bullies to answer questions and be honest in their sharing.
But this is not a heartbreaking headline news article. Rather, it’s about one story involving some fifth-grade boys from Mankato, Minnesota. Through their proactive efforts, they set an example for all of us. USA Today came to Minnesota to interview them about how they are addressing the bullying behavior that had been going on against one of their classmates. One of the Franklin Elementary boys turned the tables and asked, rather than talked about, the bullying that he and his friends had joined forces to protect.
“Why pick on someone who has special needs?” he asked. Great question, especially in light of the fact that the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services make it very clear that kids with disabilities have a much higher risk for being bullied than some other groups. What makes them an easier target to some bullies can be their vulnerabilities socially, physically, and emotionally.
That shouldn’t come as a surprise to any of us, but it sure hit home for five boys attending the same elementary school as their friend, James. James s is a special needs student, and when these five mini superheroes saw how James was being bullied consistently, they stepped up to the plate to change that. James’ friend, Jack, explained; “They were like, using him and taking advantage of him. Because he’s easier to pick on, and it’s just not right,” said Jack.
This crusade of fifth-grade justice upped their efforts in befriending James. They talked about sports, spend time playing video games, just, well… hang out together! What difference has that made? Ask James’ mom. “These boys have had a profound effect on James’ socialization, and his improvement has been astonishing,” she said, and then smiled and added, “They’re changing him.”
Little do they know that they aren’t just changing James. They’re changing the world, just like we all can.
Video Credit: Incredible Elementary School Boys Fight Bullying For Special Needs Classmate by USA TODAY on YouTube.