When A 10-Year-Old Is Bullied In School, His Father Tells Him To Fight The Bully. Is This The Best Approach?

John Walkup, M.D., Johns Hopkins

Question: A 10-year-old is bullied in school. Father tells him to stand up for himself by taking the bully outside to beat him up. How could this situation be handled better? Or is this the right approach?

Answer: When I hear about a 10-year-old who's being bullied, before I even think about a solution to that problem I want to understand why the bullying is occurring. There's never any excuse for any child to be bullied by another.

And so the kind of mainstream strategies for addressing that are for parents to work with the school, the school to work with the parents of all the children involved, to work with the children and the teachers, to find a solution to end the bullying.

I think it's also important for people to understand problems in the bully. Children who bully oftentimes have emotional difficulties. And so it's not just about stopping the bullying but its trying to address the emotional needs of the bully.

The other thing that's important to understand is that there are some children who have problems that make it more likely that there will be kids who notice them, tease them, and may go after them and bully them.

So it's very important not to just defend the child from the bully but it's also important to understand who that child is. And if that child has particular problems, for the family and the school to work together to try and help the child overcome those problems.

John Walkup, M.D., Johns Hopkins
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