How to Bully-Proof Your Kids for Life

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What is bullying?
It’s a sustained pattern of aggression by a person with more power, targeting someone with less power. The key, says Stella O’Malley, author of a ground-breaking 2022 book, Bully-Proof Kids, is that it’s repeated behavior. But beneath this simple definition lies a complex, multilayered situation that can be exceptionally tricky to unpack. What is the power, and where does it come from? With children, says O’Malley, it’s often that they have more social status, or have been led to believe they do.

One very big issue, which she returns to time and again in her book and in our conversation, is that bullying is always about more than what’s going on with two people: the bully and the target. What about the children O’Malley calls “wingmen”, the bully’s supporters, the kids who think the bully is the bee’s knees and want to stay in their favour? What’s happening with the kids watching silently – the bystanders? Who is seeing what’s happening, when it all starts to kick off, and getting out fast? Who’s calling out the injustice? To understand bullying, you have to see the whole picture.

Because, says O’Malley, bullying is about absolutely everyone in the group, room, office, or playground; even the bystanders – those who do or say nothing when bullying is taking place – because, as the German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, not to speak is to speak; not to act is to act.


https://pocket-syndicated-images.s3.amazonaws.com/62ab8b7453a06.jpgPhoto by Feodora Chiosea/Getty Images



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