The Role Adults Play In The Bullying Epidemic


The Bullying Epidemic

There is a great deal of talk about bullying these days. And there should be. It is a major problem. According to leading bullying expert Dr. Michele Borba, one in three kids in the US is a being bullied. Including 20% of all five year olds, the current age of my daughter.

She was taunted on the playground at preschool because she has epilepsy. When she was four years old. I helped her focus on how to respond to her classmates. Teachers addressed the issue with the students involved and their parents.

While much of the focus today concerning bullying is in on children and youth, I firmly believe if we are going to help our children with the bullying epidemic, we need to address adult attitudes and behaviors.

Adults are essential to ending the bullying epidemic.

There is an overall culture in our society that encourages bullying behavior. According to a recent study, Civility In America 2013, things have reached crisis levels. In person and online, people do not treat one another in a respectful, civil manner.

The study asserts incivility touches every aspect of our lives.

It is a known fact among experts that home environment is a key causative factor for childhood bullying. That is not to say parents are always to blame if their child is a bully. But the examples set in the home often contribute to the problems seen in schools.

In some cases adults in the home model bullying, and children are simply mimicking what they have seen. Sibling bullying is also on the rise. And children who are bullied are likely to become bullies themselves.

According to Dr. Borba: “Home environments less likely to raise bullies have warm, positive, active adult involvement and interest. There are firm limits to unacceptable behaviors. Consistent, non-hostile, fair discipline. And strong adult role models.”

It behooves us all to take a hard look at the examples we are setting and the lessons we are teaching our children. Dr. Borba says it is also critical to talk about bullying.

Parents should use the word “bullying” and define what it means. The discussion does not need to be difficult. And when you open up the lines of communication, you may be surprised by what you child has to say.

We all know, however, that children learn more from what we do than what we say. Parents should be mindful of the fact their children are watching. Talking is important, but so is modeling kindness and empathy for our children.

I work with moms online through my campaign The Mom Pledge. Women who take the Pledge commit to following a set of principles in all their online activities. Those principles translate into positive attitudes and behaviors that can be seen and emulated by their children.

The key to bullying lies within each of us! We all have the power to set the right example.

Elizabeth grew up in St. Louis, Missouri. She moved to Jacksonville in 2012 after visiting during winter and falling in love with the climate, people and laid-back atmosphere. She never plans to leave! She lives in Mandarin with her Jacksonville native husband, their daughter, three cats, a dog and a fire-bellied toad. Elizabeth enjoys working from home as a freelance writer and family photographer. She has written for "The Huffington Post," "What To Expect" and been featured on top parenting sites across the web. Her photography appears in the National Geographic book, "Getting Your Shot: Stunning Photos, How-To Tips and Endless Inspiration From The Pros."


  1. Excellent points! We appreciate your points about modeling good behavior in order to expect good behavior from others. Too often we expect more from our youngsters than we offer ourselves. By creating a discussion on this topic, kids can be empowered to name and call out bullying behavior wherever they see it, even when such behavior is happening at home.


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