In her forthcoming memoir, “Miley Cyrus: Miles to Go,” Miley reveals that her younger days were spent “being teased, tortured and humiliated by school bullies.” The “Hannah Montana” star says she was “friendless, lonely and miserable,” and believes she would have been physically harmed if the abuse hadn't stopped.” Miley writes, “The girls took it beyond normal bullying. These were big, tough girls. I was scrawny and short. They were fully capable of doing me bodily harm.” Most of the comments on many sites focus on the wrong areas.
People respond as if the important thing is whether they like Miley or hate her, whether they feel sorry for her or they want to see her hurt because she’s so rich and famous, whether they think she’s a selfish, twit who deserves what she got.
The important areas to focus on are: It happened to Miley, it happens to most kids, it happens to our kids. What can our children and teenagers do and what can we do?
Other people can take forever trying to educate and convert bullies and their parents, but not me. Stopping bullying doesn’t begin with understanding bullies or with their psychotherapy and rehabilitation. Educating bullies and their parents begins when they find out that the old tactics don’t work. Beginning by trying to educate them means that the rest of the kids remain victims until bullies decide to stop bullying (if ever). Instead, protect kids now; stop bullies first and then educate them.
Therefore, the lessons we can learn from Miley Cyrus are that in order to stop bullies and bullying we need:
- Principals and other administrators who want to stop bullying.
- Federal laws that require each school to create programs defining and prohibiting specific bullying behaviors and that hold principals liable if they fail to stop bullying.
- School anti-bullying policies with specific behaviors spelled out. That way, principals and teachers will be supported in preventing bullying and, when bullying is discovered, in tackling bullies and their parents. Also, the principals who don’t want to act will be forced to, because they’ll be more afraid of the publicity and penalties they’ll get if they don’t stop bullying than they are now of the parents of the bullies.
- Children, teenagers and parents who respond immediately; who don’t let bullying pass by; who call it like it is; who use the word “bully.” They’re alerting the rest of us and rallying us to be their allies and to help them resist.
In addition to professional experience, I learned practical, pragmatic methods growing up in New York City and then watching our six children and their friends and enemies. And we live in Denver, home of Columbine High School.
Read “Parenting Bully-Proof Kids.” Get coaching to design tactics that fit your specific situation. Take charge of your personal space and schools.