How to talk to kids about bullying. National Bullying Prevention Month
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National Bullying Prevention Month

Talk To Your Kids About Bullying Please! Inspiring Jennifer Livingston Video #StopTheBullying

by Alicia in Age 5-7, Age 7-10, Ages 10-13

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As you might know, I am not feeling well as I am recovering from two surgeries, one unexpected. Despite that I have no energy and do not feel great, I felt compelled to write this post from bed today after watching Jennifer Livingston’s video. Please take a minute to read it and comment. If you don’t have time to read it now, bookmark it and read it later. Please share this post with friends, family, your child’s teachers, and neighbors. For your children.

National Bullying Prevention month

October is National Bullying Prevention Month. Bullying doesn’t just happen to children and CBS WKBT news anchor in Wisconsin, Jennifer Livingston, shares her story with the world, on air. Jennifer Livingston is standing up for herself and victims of bullying everywhere by taking air time to discuss an email she received from a male viewer who criticizes her weight.

If you don’t have time to read this post, please watch the video.

The email reads: “Hi Jennifer, It’s unusual that I see your morning show, but I did so for a very short time today. I was surprised indeed to witness that your physical condition hasn’t improved for many years. Surely you don’t consider yourself a suitable example for this community’s young people, girls in particular. Obesity is one of the worst choices a person can make and one of the most dangerous habits to maintain. I leave you this note hoping that you’ll reconsider your responsibility as a local public personality to present and promote a healthy lifestyle.”

After reading the email on-air, Livingston responds: “Now those of us in the media, we get a healthy dose of critiques from our viewers throughout the year, and we realize that it comes with having a job in the public eye,” she adds, “But this email was more than that.”

“The truth is: I am overweight. You could call me fat and, yes, even obese on a doctor’s chart, but to the person who wrote me that letter – do you think I don’t know that? That your cruel words are pointing out something that I don’t see? You don’t know me. You are not a friend of mine. You are not a part of my family. And you have admitted that you don’t watch this show,” she says. “So you know nothing about me but what you see on the outside. And I am much more than a number on the scale.”

Jennifer Livingston is a mom of three and points out that emails like this one are teaching children it’s okay to bully.

Watch Jennifer Livingston talk about the email and respond directly to the viewer in this video.

Here’s something to think about:

Kids see their parents bully each other or their adult friends and they see that adult handle it with grace and dignity on the outside. But children don’t know how to handle bullying with grace and dignity and we should NOT expect our kids to know how to gracefully react when they are called fat, zit-face, gay, or retarded.

Here are a few starting points for a conversation about bullying:

  • 1. What is bullying?
    1. Physical, verbal, and emotional/mental
  • 2. Why shouldn’t we bully?
  • 3. What should you do if you are bullied?
    1. Who should you go to?
  • 4. How to be compassionate towards others

Children’s brains are not developed enough to process and spit out nasty comments like the garbage they are. Adults are better able to let words go in one ear and out the other.

We say children can’t drink until 21. Why would we think they are emotionally and mentally equipped enough to handle the harsh words of a bully at 6, 8, or even 15 years old, then? They aren’t! unless we TEACH them how to deal with it and to not be a bully themseleves.

YOUR child may be one who says "Mom, she knows I was just teasing". .

And you shrug it off.

Not true. Your child and my child don’t KNOW what the other child is thinking or feeling. It’s impossible. Harsh comments are UNACCEPTABLE. Tell your child that. Please.

Jennifer goes on to say, “If you are at home and talking about the fat news lady, guess what: Your children are probably going to go to school and call someone fat”.

Ms. Livingston ends with this statement:

“Learn from my experience that the cruel words of one are nothing compared to the shouts of many”.

?

Please talk to your kids about the questions and statements above and about National Bullying Prevention Month. Whether it’s while you’re in the car, at the grocery store, or eating dinner doesn’t matter. Anytime is better than no time. Then, if you feel so compelled, let me know if you were surprised by your child’s answers or remarks.

- Alicia

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