Parents As Teachers, Part 2 Topic: Bullies


Bullies. Who are they? What do they do? How can you protect your child?

By Brian Barron

Identifying a bully is more difficult than you would think. If your son takes a toy from another child in a play group is he a bully? If your daughter teases another child because of a hole in their shirt, is she a bully? There is a fine line between “normal behaviour” and bullying.

Bullying is the repeated use of violence or the threat of violence against a child that is perceived by the bully to be weaker. Two keys here:

  • 1. the bully needs to feel superior; and
  • 2. the bullying becomes serial (that is, the bully finds a victim that can be dominated).

Bullying often begins with actions that can be explained away by the bully as practical jokes. There was a commercial on television a while back for a shipping company. They were showing how they would take attendance and track missing students. In the middle of the search they inadvertently free a student that was locked in a locker. The boy was a perfect stereotype of a bully’s victim. He was small, nerdy, and wore glasses. Once the bully has a victim the violence usually escalates.

Most schools have awareness campaigns and anti-bullying literature. Some are more effective than others.  So what can you do?

Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.

  • 1. Communicate with your child. Be sensitive to changes in behaviour. Especially any reluctance to go to school. Two great questions to ask daily- What’s the best thing that happened at school today? What’s the worst thing that happened at school today? Make sure your child knows that you are willing to listen and able to help with any problems.
  • 2. Communicate with your child’s school friends. Have them over to your house. It doesn’t have to be an occasion. Let your child invite one, two or three classmates over for a play day. Get them together for a snack and ask them what they like best about school. Then sit back and listen. Be the parent that drives the kids to the park, movie, or sporting event. When they are in the car listen to their chatter.
  • 3. Communicate with the school. Meet the teacher early in the school year. Volunteer if you can. Go to parent nights and report card interviews. Teachers appreciate knowing there is a caring parent at the other end of the phone line. If you have any concerns go to the school and address them. Be calm and supportive; but firm. If they are aware of you as a concerned parent you will get better results from the school.

Finally, you can discuss these strategies with your child:

  • The best defence against teasing is indifference. If the child being teased does not react there is no fun in teasing. Teasing is verbal bullying and the bully is looking for a reaction. NO REACTION, NO REINFORCEMENT.
  • Find a friend. Bullies look for loners. Make sure your child does not go to or from school alone.
  • Make noise. Unlike the response to verbal teasing, the reaction to any physical abuse should be loud. Silence is submission. Tears and trembling are victories for the bully. Yelling such phrases as “Stop!”, or “Cut that
    out!” or “Get away from me!” can be effective two ways. They
    alert people in the vicinity that there is a problem. They also surprise the bully and can put him or her on the defensive.

Sadly, there will always be bullying in our schools. The best we can do is keep our children from being the victims.



Brian Barron is a retired teacher/administrator. He taught for 36 years before retiring to take care of his grandchildren. When not with the kids he is still teaching occasionally and is deeply involved in Mad Science(teaching Science wonder to young children). His career spanned 15 years in the elementary system and 21 in the secondary. He has two sons, and a daughter-in-law who are all teachers.

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I founded Mums 'n Chums in 2009 after realizing that the area I live in was drastically underserviced as compared to surrounding areas for support and activities for growing families. Mums 'n Chums grew popular very quickly and I have been dedicated to nurturing that growth through frequent networking, social media engagement and in person meetups. By the end of its first year, Mums 'n Chums had close to 500 members and was receiving regular inquiries from fans outside of its service area, asking when we would be expanding to serve them as well. After much careful research and polling, I expanded the site in May of 2011 to cover the entire North end of the GTA (from Cambridge to Markham), areas I believe are still receiving far less attention than they deserve from other sites and family services. We also changed the focus from small scale local mom and tot meetups to more of an informative purpose, closing down our forum and adding several talented contributors to the blog. We do still offer several large scale family events per year, such as our popular Birthday Bash events and our Holiday Bash in December. Our contests have also become a member favourite, and we strive to offer amazing prizes from trusted brands like Babies R Us, La Roche Posay, Johnson's Baby and many more. In March of 2016, after months of work spent migrating all of the site's content to a new platform, Mums 'n Chums re-launched with its fresh, new look. The changes and expansion have proven a great success and we're still getting inquiries from several other cities within the Greater Toronto Area, whom we have decided to serve as well. I have built this site and its' reputation carefully and look forward to continuing its growth!