Child wonders if father is wrong about bullying | Lifestyles
DR. WALLACE: My younger brother is bullied at school. I recently overheard him talking to my dad about it and my dad replied that sometimes bullying is a necessary evil that must be tolerated and can ultimately make the victim stronger. I know my dad is a good person and takes care of my brother, but something about his advice perturbed me. Is my father wrong? – Concern for my brother, via email
CONCERNED FOR MY BROTHER: I don’t doubt your father was well intentioned in giving this advice to your brother, but I think his advice is wrong. If left unaddressed, bullying can have a significant mental and emotional impact on a person. For this reason, it is crucial for someone who has experienced bullying to process the many emotions and feelings that are likely to arise as a result of the incidents in question.
Your father seems to have the older generation mentality when he believes that hardship and pain turn boys into men. While challenges and difficulties can actually empower a person based on the experiences they learn, it does not mean that no action should be taken when a person is suffering. Bullying is absolutely not a rite of initiation and every child is entitled to a healthy and safe learning environment.
I advise you to step in as your brother’s older sibling and act as his support system during this time. Let him know that he deserves to feel safe and welcome in school and that bullying is not acceptable behavior. Perhaps the two of you can discuss how best to cope with his situation and then adequately confront the bullies by reporting their behavior to the adult authorities at his school. Be there for this first meeting so your brother will be more comfortable explaining exactly what happened.
Above all, however, emphasize to your brother that he is not alone and can turn to you at any time for unconditional support and guidance within your family, as this is very important to him.
TEEN GIRLS: Do teenage girls get educational information about abstinence and birth control before entering into a sexual relationship? The answer is mostly NO!
According to studies by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Among Girls With Sexual Experience, surveys indicate that 83% say they received formal sex education only after their first sexual experience.
Most girls aged 15-17 said they had already completed an effective sex education course that included birth control and no-sex options at the time of the survey. For many of the sexually active teenage girls, however, this course came too late because they were already sexually active.
This information represents a missed opportunity to introduce medically correct information at an earlier age, the researchers said. The study also found that 15% of teenage girls ages 15-17 used contraception when they had sex for the first time. Sex education classes may start around the age of 14 or even a little younger to be more effective overall. The key is to present accurate and informative facts before any physical activity takes place. The sooner young teen girls can ask all the questions they have, the more they can make informed decisions for themselves.
Indeed, while sex education classes can always be improved, these classes have proven to be one of the main reasons behind the decrease in the birth rate of teenagers in recent years.
Dr. Robert Wallace will answer questions from readers in this column. Email him at [email protected]