By Dr. Renee Clauselle
At the March 10 White House Conference for Bullying Prevention, First Lady Michelle Obama touched on the issue of adults’ responsibility to model respect. Oftentimes, children repeat what they see being done at home by their parents, or by adults in the community.
We often think bullying happens between children only. However, it also happens among adults, and this is usually where the breeding ground for bullying exists. When children see adults in their community demeaning, degrading or hurting another adult, they may begin to think that sort of behavior is acceptable.
Bullying starts in the community and at home. Usually, the foundation is set at a young age when children grow up in a home environment where this negative behavior is reinforced among the adults and when there is social or physical aggression in the home and community. Perhaps they see an adult verbally assault a store clerk or service professional. This is how bullying begins and breeds.
Bullying is a social-ecological problem affecting the community. If the community accepts bullying, it will breed easily. Breeding begins at home; children who bully their siblings are more likely to bully others in school. If this negative behavior is reinforced, in that the child gets what they want as a result of bullying, they will continue to do it into adulthood.
Parents and adults are the role models for the future generation. They should remember that anything they say will impact children on how they will deal with certain situations. It is important that adults and parents engage in positive behavior so that they can be someone their children can truly emulate.