Bullying and Children:

An Interview with Robert Spencer Knotts

Here is the second part of this insightful interview about bullying and children.

My dear friend, Robert Spencer Knotts who has been actively involved in working out solutions to stop bullying in schools, took the time to explain me in detail the different aspects concerning bullying and children.

If you missed the first part, please see it here:

“Bullying and Children (Part I)”

Gabriela: Can parents learn ways to prevent bullying in schools?

Bob: Bullying flourishes in the ignored shadows of the schoolyard. When no one is watching and no one is listening, kids often behave with much less restraint. So it follows that one effective deterrent to bullying behavior is the attention of adults. This means teachers who listen and watch and ask questions, of course. But it also means friends and relatives, parents especially, who make an effort to learn what’s going on.

Good listening skills are necessary for the parent of a bully who begins to show aggressive tendencies at home. Those same listening skills are just as important for anyone in the opposite situation, as the parent of a bullying victim who becomes withdrawn and morose.

These parents or other caregivers should be asking questions of their kids – questions that include the topic of bullying. What kind of relationship do they have with other kids at school? Are they feeling angry or afraid at school? And if so, why? What are they doing or what’s being done to them? Then those same adults must listen to the answers and offer sensible responses that focus on defusing the problem. In some cases, the adults may need to intervene directly, speaking to teachers, guidance counselors or other parents. But the only way for these adults to understand the situation at school is to keep asking thoughtful questions without making their kids feel threatened … and then to hear, truly hear, what their children are trying to tell them.

Conversations with the kids in your life about this issue are critical to preventing and stopping bullying behavior. That’s as true for parents of the “other” kids as for those of the bullies and victims. As I said earlier, bystanders are the key to ending bullying in school because they typically either encourage or ignore the aggression. And naturally this only emboldens the bullies.

Every adult who is raising a child can help eliminate bullying by talking with that child about bullying experiences at school, honestly and openly. If the adult listens attentively, and offers sensitive guidance, their child stands a much better chance of becoming part of the solution to school bullying.

G: How is bullying instigating anxiety and depression in children?

B: Well, in lots of ways, I think. I’d mentioned earlier that many children who are bullying victims grow up to become much less self-confident. That means they’re more prone to problems such as anxiety and depression, of course, because our attitude about ourselves as individuals is so key to a healthy approach to living.

Bullying can create long-lasting fears in people and long-lasting anger as well. When a child is bullied, the world can feel like a terrifying place to that child. It can seem like a world in which they have little or no control over their lives.

Bullying victims may start to feel that they are unable to really be themselves in society without being hurt by someone, that they can’t relax and express who they are. And again, any and all of this can contribute to anxiety and depression as children and then later in life during adulthood.

Bullying also can create more anger inside the bullies. Clearly these kids already have anger issues. They’re being mistreated or ignored or whatever at home, by their parents or siblings or caregivers. Chances are pretty good that schoolyard bullies are themselves being bullied in some way or other, perhaps by their parents. So they’re already carrying plenty of rage.

To the bullies, bullying seems a convenient way to vent some of that – but actually often may only cause more rage over time. They may start to feel that they’re mean people or outcasts because other kids treat them this way. They grow accustomed to dealing with their feelings through abuse and violence and this becomes a habit. Eventually, it’s possible this type of situation can create feelings of anxiety or depression in these bullies – perhaps as kids but possibly in later life too.

Bullying helps no one and hurts many people. This happens in many ways, as I’m suggesting, including contributing to anxiety and/or depression.

G: Can you share with us some U.S. bullying statistics?

B: There are many stats about bullying, not always consistent. But the numbers for bullying in the U.S. say at least one out of four children is a victim – or more than that, depending which research you see. It’s been said that a child is bullied in this country every seven minutes. I’m not sure how we can really get a handle on the figures, honestly. There’s also research showing that, among the student population, a much higher percentage of school bullies will grow up to become criminals – and that they often will commit multiple crimes during their lives. What’s clear is this: bullying is a serious social problem. And the time for it to end is now. Thanks, Gaby! I appreciate the chance to help spread the word about this issue!

THANK YOU SO MUCH Bob for this wonderful interview and for all your valuable insights on this matter.
As you just said, bullying is a serious matter and what worries me is that many times parents and school teachers are either unaware of bullying problems or aren’t giving them the importance they deserve.

For way too long this problem has been neglected and now is the time to join forces and stop bullying in schools once and for all.


About Robert Knotts: Robert Spencer Knotts is founder and president of the Humanity Project, author of 24 books, five plays and numerous other works. His website through the Authors Guild is at www.rsknotts.com

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