When dealing with bullying, empathy is key as shared in Bullying & Beyond… 11. Resilience.
Another hurdle we faced when trying to search out help for our son was the problem of sympathy. We were told by a responsible adult, that our son would be dealt with in a more “sympathetic” way.
Children, just like our son, who are being bullied, need to know that others care about them and are sorry about what they are going through.
Some children, particularly boys and teenagers might be embarrassed by being in the spot-light receiving sympathy. They may not want others feeling sorry for them.
Sympathy while supportive can reinforce a child’s belief that there is something wrong with them and can make a child worry that they are at fault. It may take the locus of blame off the bully, where it rightly lies. Too much sympathy can compound feeling of helplessness and of being powerless.
I believe that every child, be they a bully or bullied… need sympathy backed up by action.
My trust and respect was weakened when I asked one adult in a position of responsibility, if they had ever seen a case like our son’s, as he had been struggling with school not just in the short term but over the majority of his time in secondary school and I was amazed to receive a resounding “No.” This answer exemplified the fractured and broken school system that enabled bullying to flourish.
I believe the solution lies in education for all involved, including regular professional development opportunities to raise awareness of the short and long-term effects of bullying.
Did you or your child receive sympathy, how did it make you feel? Were you able to access competent, professional support when needed?
Mindfully Marie xx