To Truly Defeat Bullying, Self-Esteem Is Everything
Why are some children picked on by bullies, while others aren’t?
Anti-bullying initiatives often cite discrimination based on race, religion, gender, disability etc. They make very valid points.
But there’s one factor many initiatives miss. And it’s a major risk-factor in a child being bullied:
Low self-esteem manifests in poor eye-contact, social withdrawal, defensive body language, and a low sense of self-worth. All of which signal a child as vulnerable.
Poor self-esteem is not simply a consequence of bullying. It’s a root cause.
Unfortunately, a child already weighed down by low self-esteem, then suffers more at the hands of bullies.
Many anti-bullying initiatives do great work to end discrimination based on factors including race, religion, class and gender and sexual orientation. No child should feel pressured to change the way they look, how they feel, or what they believe, just to avoid bullies.
But we cannot address this problem just from the perspective of the bully.
Yes, it is important to stop bullies bullying, but we need to go deeper – to address the reason why that child was targeted in the first place.
Why is this so important?
Because experiences of bullying do not end when a child walks away from the school gates for the last time.
Bullies exist out there in the world, too.
They exist in offices, relationships, even families. Maybe it’s a spiteful co-worker, an abusive partner, a controlling family-member.
Even when we go about our day, there’s a possibility of running into a bully. The driver who screams at you in a traffic jam, the landlord who forces you into an unfair contract, or maybe just someone whose had a few too many drinks at the bar.
In cases of low self-esteem, we also need to help the victim to change.
⚠️Now, two quick caveats ⚠️
1️⃣ We’re not saying this to make anyone paranoid, just to express a sense of realism. Nasty people exist. Our children need preparation for that.
2️⃣ We’re not suggesting our children should be trained so they can beat up bullies. In fact, the opposite. By training Martial Arts our children become less likely to be affected by violence
But what we are saying is that we have a duty to help unconfident children develop their self-esteem. And as a by-product, to change the image they portray. So they are no longer identified as vulnerable.
We believe this should be an equal focus for anti-bullying initiatives.
Yes, it’s important to make our schools secure places where no child is discriminated against.
But we cannot create safe-spaces for our kids against life.
Our kids need more than a protective shelter at school. They need a sacred space to grow.
A space to transform their mindset, build their resilience, cultivate their self-esteem, and nurture them in their journey from victim to hero.
To prepare them for whatever awaits them in life; to understand that the safest space is not a physical location. The most important safe-space, is their minds.
And by doing so, they can no longer be singled-out as vulnerable.
Their body language changes. They stand straight, walk tall, and look people in the eyes.
They throw off the shackles of low self-esteem.
As the studies show; “high self‐esteem protects children and adolescents from involvement in bullying”.
And that is their most powerful defense against bullying.
Because we are not just dealing with a bullying crisis here. We are dealing with a self-esteem crisis.
And this is something we have a duty to help our children with.
⚜️ Not just for the playground. But for life ⚜️
Thanks for reading.