Dealing with bullying or negative behaviours? Let’s talk.

During a conversation about a friendship turned sour between two 12 year olds, a family member brought up the risk of suicide for the young person who was on the receiving end of the bullying. This came out as a result of my recommendation to engage in a sit-down meeting/conversation, instead of simply focusing on how this person's "bully" should be punished. A sit down where instead of focusing on the past, the two of them came up with a way to respect each other's current boundaries (of not being friends, but cordial classmates). This, as a way to focus on their feelings and help them move forward, considering they have to share space until the summer. Focusing on building resilience, advocating for oneself, establishing boundaries - these are all important life lessons that can come from bullying.

I recognize that there is an emotional impact, and I will always advocate for dealing with that. But I also advocate for reformation, growth, resilience and capacity-building - all of which can come from situations like the one that was described to me this morning.

Can we try and nuance the conversation about bullying? And instead of demonizing, or explaining-away bad behaviours, teach kids how to deal and cope and grow? We're not always going to be there for these youth and I hate the idea of them having to learn about consent, boundaries and consequences "when they're older" and don't have the support systems they can access when they're younger.

Adult bullying happens. Bosses are mean. Partners cross boundaries. Let's not forget that the vacuumed, insular silos (schools) are not the only places, but they might be the first. Let's try to take some varied approaches so we're not just recreating systems of oppression that cling to bad vs good narratives to punish certain kids and coddle the others.

Dealing with bullying or negative behaviours? Let’s talk.