25 Myths About Bullying and Cyberbullying by Elizabeth K. Englander
First published, 2020
⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
I remember when I was young there were two schools of thought on How To Deal With Bullies. The first was – hit them back. All very well in theory, but if they’re assassinating your character day after day, or calling you names, hitting them doesn’t feel like a solution, especially when taken together with the second piece of advice: ignore them. It’s impossible to hit someone, back or otherwise, while simultaneously ignoring them.
Therefore, as the formerly-bullied, when I saw this book, I just had to read it. The author brings a wealth of experience to her writing. There is no doubting her credentials. And I loved that she drew a distinction between bullying and other acts of social cruelty, because it’s quite true: most children have disagreements with, even fall out with, their friends. Everyone makes a throwaway comment at some point which, on reflection, might have been hurtful. Plus, I can’t think there’s a parent or grandparent these days who isn’t completely terrified of cyberbullying.
Most of my friends have children (we’re at that age now) and I’m sure they remember, as I do, that when we were in high school, we had to choose between computer science and modern languages. We’re in our late-thirties now. Although the internet existed, people didn’t have it in their own homes. Most of us cut our teeth on dial-up, and only when we had to. Thus, the idea of addressing a nameless, faceless bully, who might have an audience of millions online, is utterly perplexing and scary.
However, I learnt several things from 25 Myths About Bullying and Cyberbullying.
1) The vast majority of young people who are cyberbullied know the identity of their online bully.
2) Often cyberbullying runs in tandem with face-to-face bullying.
3) and arguably most importantly, the two schools of thought I was raised with were wrong. As with most things in life: communication is key. Having regular talks with the young people in your life is very important. Ensuring they have a grown up in school who they can talk to when they need to is a good idea. And, more important than anything else: helping your child to have friends is vital. The support a kid gets from having friends is not to be underestimated. If they don’t have so many friends in school (happens to the best of us), a parent or guardian can ensure they have out-of-school activities, other interests with other kids – because the support network is so important.
There are many other things we think we know about bullies: that they’re insecure, that they only pick on smaller kids, that they wind up as failures – these are all subjects that the author touches on and, although not a parent as yet, I have learnt so much from this book. I’d recommend it to anyone.