Are boys simply born aggressive (the bully) or weak (the victim)? No. But they learn these roles and it's our job as adults to help our children unlearn these behaviors.
What if your son is the bully (ie the "tough"one)? Are you relieved that your son is the bully rather than the bullied? You shouldn't be.
In a follow-up study of boys in grades 6 through 9, bullies were found to be four times more likely than their non-bullying peers to be convicted of at least one crime by the age of 24. Surprisingly, 60% of these former bullies had committed at least one crime, and 35% had committed three or more crimes.*
My mother's group recently hosted Dr. Ron Slaby and Dr. Kim Storey to talk to us about bullying. I left the lecture feeling empowered rather than frustrated (as I tend to be after reading about bullying online) because they gave us specific things we can do with our children to help them deal with bullying -- whether they are the bully/victim or a bystander. In other words, their work is meant to empower all children.
I'm a firm believer that it takes strength to be kind and I was delighted that they acknowledge that bystanders play a HUGE role in bullying and, more importantly, that there is a lot that they can do to stop bullying -- because bullying spreads when it is ignored.
Their website, eyesonbullying.org, is excellent. Please check it out. It has everything we learned at the lecture and more.
But what really impressed me is that they have their entire program (remember, it has concrete things that you can do to help your child regardless of their role) available as PDF that you can print and share with the world.
Please, please download the Eyes on Bullying Toolkit -- it's free.
Here's a taste of what you'll find: