My grandson is 6 and a half - too young to be bullied.
According to reports, 20% of all children say they have been bullied. I don't know why I didn't think it would affect my grandkids. My grandkids are all under the age of 6 - so I thought they were "too young" to experience it. Wrong.
This summer my almost-first-grader grandson is attending a day camp. It is great fun with a lot of physical activity. However, after the first few days, he said, " Some of the kids said I have chubby cheeks."
Imagine the fury of a Momma Bear, a Grandma Bear and an Aunt Bear! This was our little bear cub. Our cute little bear cub. How could someone (a child even) be so mean as to say he is anything less than the most handsome boy ever?
So, Grandma Bear wanted to learn about bullying. Why does it happen? How can it be prevented? Here are some of the facts I uncovered:
- 90% of kids in grades 4 - 8 have reported being a victim of bullying
- 30% of children admit to bullying others
- In grades K through 12, 1 out of every 7 students has either been a victim of bullying or is a bully
- Only about 20% of students who are bullied notify an adult.
Make it stop
When bystanders intervene, bullying stops within 10 seconds, 57% of the time according to multiple studies. It is also shown that adults can help prevent bullying by openly talking to children about bullying and how to get help. As parents, we need to be aware that our own words and actions give powerful examples to our children. Try always to model kindness and respect in your own actions.
Our happy ending
As we talked about this "chubby cheeks" incident with my grandson, he said the bullies were two girls who were older women at 7 years old. His mom (a.k.a Momma Bear) wisely said that sometimes, when a girl likes you, she teases you because she is afraid to say how she really feels. This really sank in.
The next day, after camp, we anxiously asked if he had another encounter with mean girls? He slyly smiled and said,"When they said that I had chubby cheeks again, I said 'It's ok. I know you actually like me but you are too embarrassed to say it."
He reported the next day that he now had a girlfriend. Yes, you guessed it, one of the 7 year olds. So, we had a happy ending. (His Auntie Bear didn't have to go growl at anyone on his behalf)
I realize as he gets older, the bullying may escalate and we won't always have a girlfriend solution. For that reason, I am a little glad this happened so early in his school career. It was a good lesson that we need to continue to keep the communication flowing and always practice that golden rule: Treat others as we would like to be treated.