Skip to content

When adults bully our kids

Just because bullying of children by children is in the news a lot doesn’t mean it’s new, growing, or done only by children. But it remains a problem – a very serious one for some children (see this ) – and “we will never address the bullying problem between our students if we don’t address it among ourselves,” writes educator Rosalind Wiseman, author of Queen Bees and Wannabes in her blog. I completely agree. We need to address bullying among ourselves not just for our own sake but for our children’s. How does this help them? Because the adults around them need to set good, not bad, examples for them and because – since the research shows quite simply that what goes ’round comes ’round (see this ) – our children will have better social experiences online and offline when the adults around them are teaching them respect toward others as well as modeling it. In other words, when we’re walking the talk!

So Wiseman wrote that helpful post (linked to above) about how adults can deal with adult bullies in the workplace. What about how parents can deal with adult bullies who are bullying their kids – e.g., teachers or coaches? Amy Jussel of interviewed Wiseman, giving her six what-if’s – actual examples of adults’ abuses of power in students’ experiences – and asking her how she’d advise parents on how to help their kids deal with those situations (to get to the interview, scroll down this page to the third yellow box on it). I highly recommend this interview to teens as well as parents, even if they’re not aware of any such power abuses in their kids’ school lives, because it opens thought up to how all of us can respond to power abuses calmly, respectfully, and ethically – the only way to respond if there is any desire to stop cycles of retaliation and create school and workplace cultures of respect.

Related links

  • Rosalind Wiseman’s good and bad examples in the Huffington Post of anti-bullying videos and PSAs (it’s important that schools get this right too – what to use and not use in teaching civil, respectful behavior)
  • Alye Pollack’s “Words Do Hurt” video (linked to above) received a beautiful response in YouTube: “A Song for Alye Pollack,” posted and presumably written and performed by “JoeySixx1.”
Share Button
6 Comments Post a comment
  1. Julie #

    The situation that I currently have is that my son’s football coach is bullying him to the point that my son has picked up that he (the football coach) doesn’t like him. He says my son is disrespectful when my son hasn’t said anything to him and every time he is asked to do something he does it. This coach has not wanted to coach all year he has had my husband do most of the coaching. The coach is a looser I don’t know why I let my heart hurt because I know this guy is a looser he doesn’t have a job his pregnant wife works 2 or 3 jobs to help the family. He can’t keep a job because he is lazy. I truly believe that the coach is jealous of my husband because he has a good job and know how to coach. For this reason he is bullying my child to get back at my husband.
    I don’t like to ruffle feathers but I can see how my son is hurt because of this guys actions and it frustrates me to no end. We live in a small town so I just need to get this off my chest without anyone seeing it that may stir the pot even more.
    I think that kids get bullied by adults and children, people in this world are mean sometimes.

    September 24, 2016
    • Anne #

      I’m so sorry to hear this is happening, Julie.

      October 5, 2016
  2. Michael #

    When dealing with or responding to an adult bully I take the approach that one of the great leaders of world history former English Prime Minister Winston Churchill utilized when dealing with a bully. Push them back before they became to dangerous by standing up to them and by confonting them in a way in which you show strength. It is also a good idea to confront them in which you have the support of others. Those who are bullies if they feel as though you fear them or that you approve of their mistreatment and abuse they got you, and they will continue to bully you. It is sometimes wise to not say anything and to not respond at all, or to respond with humor. It is also wise to disegange and to have no fruther contact. It is also unwise not to stand up to them confront them as well. You must show that you are stronger than them or they will not back down and they often will get worse. It is also best to confront them on ones own turf.

    September 23, 2012
  3. ITHINK THIS HAPPENS WAY TO MUCH AND THE PEOPLE I KNOW WHO BULLY AND SHUN CHILD ARE SUPPOSE TO BE WARM AND LOVING FOSTER PARENTS ,OR CARING ADULTS THERE SELF SOMETHING NEEDS TO STOP THERE HOW CAN ADULTS BLAME KIDS? this situaction iam in is there three half sibling and they dont envolve there half sister they have everyone but her soooo crul it should be a law they cant then they post it all over rub it in alittle so she knows they had fun and she wasnt invited i mean shes the only one not invited .how cruel theres so many doing it i wouldnt and dont know where to seek advice help out with suggestions please >thank you terri

    August 12, 2012
  4. Really good points. Obviously kids bullying kids is an important issue, but I get quite frustrated when bullying is framed as ONLY a kid problem. In fact, I’m currently working on an article about Megan Meier’s “MySpace suicide” (as dubbed my media) in order to complicate the narrative around bullying since the case involved a mom bullying a child.

    May 5, 2011
    • Anne #

      Jacqueline, somehow I missed the message that you’d posted this and took way too long to allow it on the blog. I’ll be interested to know what your research turns up because it’s my understanding that, though Drew was widely reported as having directly bullied Megan, that wasn’t actually the case. It was my understanding that Drew condoned the setting up of a fake MySpace profile by her daughter and a peer of her daughter’s (one of them pleaded out and was used as a witness). Even the knowledge of that aggression is inexcusable, but it probably wouldn’t be considered bullying in itself. Not that adults don’t bully – they certainly do (bosses bully workers, and teachers even bully students) – but the Meier case wasn’t a clearcut example of that, to my knowledge.

      June 16, 2011

Leave a Reply

You may use basic HTML in your comments. Your email address will not be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS