My neighbor’s son is a bully who scares the kids in the neighborhood. His parents seem oblivious – is there something I can or should do?
Yes, you should do something. Bullying is a tough problem and all of us should be involved in preventing and stopping it. As Ephesians 4:32 reminds us, it is important to “Be kind to one another.”
First, it is important to gather and record information about the bullying events you have witnessed or heard about. Do not interrogate kids or parents in the neighborhood but ask questions conversationally to determine what has occurred and to get the details of the incident(s).
Then, contact the parents of the bully child. Use your judgment to select the proper time. Some parents of bullies are terrific parents and will deal with the problem; others will not understand your concerned approach or cooperate with you. It will help if you simply describe their child’s behavior, instead of labeling it, and keep your own judgment and emotion out of it. This will help avoid a negative reaction to your comments.
Finally, if the parents seem receptive, you can offer the names of resources in the community that may be able to help. Reassure them that you are available to help, as well.
Dr. Gelasia Marquez is a psychologist and family counselor.