Anti-bullying advocate offers strategies for parents
Published Wednesday, February 1, 2012 8:59AM EST
MONTREAL - Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.
It's a common ditty chanted by children being insulted, but Scott Fried says it couldn't be more false.
The activist spoke to parents Tuesday night at Lower Canada College, and said the notion that words don't hurt, and that the teenage years are the best time in a person's life, often cause pain and grief.
"Sometimes it's hard and sometimes we have to deal with the faithful ache," said Fried.
Part of Fried's message is that everyone has been bullied, and everyone bullies others at times.
He said the aggressive behaviour is often the result of a bully's own pain and suffering.
"The person who's bullying, perpetrating the bullying is in as much pain if not more than his or her mark," said Fried.
Fried said people dealing with bullies should try looking in their eyes for longer than normal.
He also suggested parents who want to help their children should get better at communicating.
It's advice that Ben Briere says he will take to heart.
"To get on their level and feel their pain, which is the message that I heard, will make them feel comfortable about to feel their own pain," said Briere.
And Fried hopes that if children recognize that the pain they're enduring is shared, they will be less likely to abuse themselves, or others.
Janice Naymark also felt that message resonated, and she will be working harder to listen to her children.
"Not to minimize their problems, because we want the pain to go away. That we're better off to empathize with them and listen to them," said Naymark.