ENID — Getting help
“The thing I like to use with kids is your rights end where my rights begin,” Livesay said.
ATS sees about 600 clients a week, she said, and somewhere around 40 percent are dealing with some level of bullying, even if it’s not the priority that brought them to seek counseling.
“At some point,” she said, “it comes up.”
Most of the attention comes with younger clients, and that is where a lot of the focus on bullying problems and solutions is, but family support is crucial to any victim overcoming the inadequacies he or she feels resulting from a bullying incident.
No one has to tell that to Kaylin’s mother, whose eyes reflect her daughter’s pain when she says she just hopes by her daughter telling how she feels when she is bullied it helps end the cycle of violence so prevalent in today’s society.
Livesay, Close and Sundvall agree parental involvement is a key component not only in dealing with a bullying problem, but also in preventing one in the first place.
And that involvement, the professionals say, seems lacking more and more in today’s society.
“Kids aren’t getting what they used to after school,” Livesay said, an observation Close shares and says probably would be a major identifier for those who say bullying is a greater problem than it ever has been.
“I think in general,” Close said, “there is a reduction in civility in society, and I think there’s a lot of pressures that make it difficult for parents to engage in child rearing.”
Parents work outside the home more than they did 50 years ago, Close said, and children today are focused on computers, television and gaming devices and there is less use of imagination and interactive playing.
“You don’t see as many kids outside playing as much,” he said.
Some of that can be attributed to a 24-hour news cycle and a shrinking world prompted by technology that heightens legitimate fears of childhood predators.
But much of it can be attributed to technology that pulls children inside to play computer games and wile away hours in front of television sets and personal DVD players.
“The more you focus on the screen, the less you are focused on society,” Sundvall said.
Many children are heading into daycare or school settings with fewer social skills, and that provides more potential for bullying to occur, Close said.
Close, Sundvall and Livesay agree certain markers are present in the majority of bullying victims.
They believe, like Elling-ton and Leap with Enid schools, victims generally have low self-esteem, are highly sensitive or “thin-skinned” and are not as prone to aggression.
Other markers might include a person being small in stature or lacking competitiveness, an identity group or the skills to develop an identity.
“The heart of bullying is that someone wishes to have a detrimental impact,” Close said. “Bullying is doing something to make the other person feel powerless and controlled.”
Ironically, Livesay said, those markers also provide the DNA for a true bully, who finds power and control by bullying another.
“Bullies are oftentimes bullied, and vice versa,” she said.
Sundvall added to that by saying she tells victims bullies most likely are being picked on themselves and that can help them identify with their attackers and on some level feel better about themselves because of that connection.