Thursday, February 7, 2013

How to Deal with Bullying

Editor’s Note: The following is a transcript from Robyn Lambird’s video on bullying and how parents can help their children cope and remain confident in their abilities.
By Robyn Lambird
My name is Robyn Lambird and today I’m going to be doing a video for the lovely followers and parents of the Cerebral Palsy Family Network. I’ve been asked to do a video tackling the issue of bullying. I know it’s quite a difficult subject to talk about. Obviously, it’s a very serious issue. But I’m going to try my best to explain to you guys my personal experience with bullying and how I dealt with it.

My Experience

I grew up in a not-so-posh area of England up until I was about the age of ten. For me, I think, experiencing bullying and getting bullied was sort of unavoidable because in this certain area of England where I came from, they didn’t like anyone that was different at school. Anyone that was different for whatever reason, whether it was their fashion choice or their mental ability or whatever, they were targeted to be picked on. But I don’t think it’s necessarily important for me to speak about how I got bullied. I think it’s important for me to speak about how I deal with it, because it’s not the bullying that counts. It’s how you deal with it and how you let it affect you as a person.
Obviously, bullying is a terrible thing and nobody should have to experience it in a perfect world. But I do think that some positives can come out of the experience. For instance, now I think I’m a stronger person. I’m more confident within myself and also I can deal with difficult situations and confrontations. I have a higher level of empathy than most kids my age, I think, because I’ve had these experiences.

How Parents Can Help

This blog, as I understand it, is mainly for parents of children with disabilities. I’m going to be talking about my parents and how they’ve really helped me get through it because without my parents, my primary school days would have been a nightmare. I got bullied by my so-called “friends.” The way I mainly got bullied was through isolation. These “friends” of mine would say mean things to me; not necessarily related to my disability because I do think even little children have a sense that it’s wrong to pick on someone because of their ability. They were picking on my because I was different, because I had a disability, but it wasn’t based around that. The main thing they would do was say mean things to me and they would isolate me. They would say, “No, you’re not allowed to sit with me.” Because it was only a small school, a small area of England, I really didn’t have that many friends. And the people I should have been friends with, I wasn’t interested in because every kid chases after being popular. So, I desperately wanted to be in with the cooler kids.
Basically, my parents just told me it’s not my fault. For whatever reason, they’re picking on me, it’s not my fault. It’s their problem. They’re not confident enough in themselves, so they have to put other people down to make themselves feel better. It was just constant reassurance that things would get better and it wasn’t my problem; I was doing the right thing and I could stay strong through it. Bullying is a thing that a lot of people experience. That constant reassurance really helped me.

It Does Get Better

I’ve since moved to Australia. I moved to Australia when I was ten-years old. The kids here are a lot more accepting. They know it’s completely wrong to pick on people because of their ability or to pick on people for any reason. I don’t really think, especially at the school I go to, that there’s that much of an issue with bullying. I certainly haven’t experienced it since I got here. A lot of people have been very accepting. I know a lot of you guys are in America, so I’m not quite sure what the situation there is like. I’ve heard on television and such that you’ve got quite a big issue with bullying. But, like I said, I do think it can make you a stronger person. Obviously, it’s not something I would wish upon everyone.
You’ve got to just keep telling your child that it’s not their fault and it will get better. Go in and speak to the teachers if necessary. I know that my parents have done that and it did help. The teachers would not mention me but bring up to the class how it’s not nice to bully and that kind of thing. Just reassure your child that it’s not their problem and make them feel good about themselves while they’re at home. Explain that kids might not understand why you’re like that because they’ve never experienced it so they don’t know how to cope with it. That’s the best advice I can give really. And, it does get better. I certainly think as you get older, people are more aware. People realize it’s not your fault. You should keep reminding your child that it’s not their fault. They can’t help the way they were born.
I’ve only got quite mild cerebral palsy, so I’m sort of able to stand up for myself, especially now that I’m older. I don’t think that bullying is as bad the more severe the disability gets. I could just be saying that. Obviously, I’ve never experienced it. But in my opinion, I think that if you’ve got a mediocre disability, it tends to be harder because you’re still enough like the other children that they can see your weaknesses.
I hope that was helpful and I look forward to doing more vlogs for you in the future, if it helps. Just remember, you can get through it and it can make you a stronger person. And if you do stand up for yourself, especially when you’re a bit older, just say, “It’s not right. I can’t help it.” Education is important as well. Especially with parents educating other parents so they can educate their children. I hope you enjoyed it. Thanks for giving me a chance to vlog for the Cerebral Palsy Family Network. Cheers!

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