Sadly, most if not all of our children will experience bullying at some point in their lives. In other words, it's a problem and it's not going away anytime soon. It's also a problem that disproportionately impacts LGBTQ+ children and children of color. While numerous articles have asked parents, teachers, and counselors what can be done about systemic bullying, I think it's beneficial to ask kids what they wish adults would do about bullying, too. Our children shouldn't be forced to come up with the solutions, to be sure, but their insight is undeniable beneficial and important.
I used to be one of those bullied kids. I was the shy, geeky girl with the glasses and frizzy hair that other kids considered to be an easy target. I was the butt of numerous jokes, and often tormented in the cafeteria and during recess for not being "athletic enough" or for being "too weird.” As I got older and came out as bisexual (and now queer), I had girls call me hateful slurs and shout “ew!” from across the halls. I tried to speak out and ask for help, but it was as if none of the adults really cared or understood how bad the bullying really was. As a result, I contemplated suicide often.
I’m one of the lucky ones, though, and I was able to hang on until things got better. But in recent weeks I’ve read so many horror stories about the impact of bullying, including one about a 9-year-old boy who came out as gay and died by suicide days later after he was scrutinized by his peers, and I'm reminded once more just how badly we need to listen to our children, take their opinions seriously, and help them in every way we can. So with that in mind, here's how our kids wish we would help combat bullying: