Rafed English

Bullying Is Always Serious

I know a child called Ned who hates his name because it rhymes with too many things and his classmates have, obviously, spotted this, "Ned, Ned, wets the bed" being one of their favorite chants. Now on one (rather pathetic) level, that's quite funny of course, but Ned doesn't think so.

It's easy for parents to brush this sort of thing off. They tell their child, "Sticks and stones can break your bones but words can never hurt you." Rules parents, of course, know better than that. Of course a little gentle teasing is preferable to being beaten up daily for your lunch money. But not all verbal taunts come under the category of gentle teasing. They can be deeply hurtful and harmful to children.

The only thing that matters is how your child feels. It doesn't matter whether one child is calling them names or the whole class. It doesn't matter whether one kid kicked him in the shins yesterday or a gang is beating up on him regularly. It doesn't matter whether you personally choose to term it teasing or taunting or bullying. The only way you can judge the severity of the problem is by how strongly your child feels about it.

And if your child is hurt and upset, you have to do something. You want to do something, of course. So do it. Depending on the circumstances, you may want to discuss with your child how he can handle it, or you may want to talk to the school. Or you may have another trick up your sleeve (changing Ned's name legally might be a bit drastic). But you must let your child see that if they he takes seriously, so do you.

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