Dads2Dads: Bullying on the rise

Tom Tozer and Bill Black pose for a portrait Monday, March 28, 2016 at the Chattanooga Times Free Press.
photo Tom Tozer and Bill Black pose for a portrait Monday, March 28, 2016 at the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Over the last several months, we have seen a lot more bullying, much of it attributed to the polarizing 2016 U.S. election. Professor Justin Patchin, co-founder of the Cyberbullying Research Center at the University of Wisconsin, reports the following: "If we look at the 2013 data, about 12 percent of students told us that they had been bullied at school because of their race or their color. In 2016, it was 25 percent who said that they were bullied because of that."

A United Nations report found that about 246 million kids worldwide experience bullying in some form every year. Nearly a third of the kids don't tell anyone.

What do we do about it?

Most of the time, kids don't bully because they are mean or ignorant. Often, it is due to their inability to control their emotions or a lack of empathy. We have been reading about a program called Yoga Calm ( that has had success helping students gain self-awareness, understand their feelings and realize the impact of their emotions on behavior.

Yoga Calm helps people become aware of their thoughts, emotions, bodily sensations and the surrounding environment without judgment. Being mindful in the here and now has been shown to positively regulate emotions and behaviors and to help individuals consider the results of their actions.

With Yoga Calm, kids learn how to reduce stress and listen to themselves. The program involves breathing, focusing on another person's needs and being aware of what is going on in a nonjudgmental way. Personal judgment and self-criticism are key attributes of those who bully, since they have often been bullied or abused themselves. In fact, one study by two professors at the University of California, Fresno, found that 72 percent of children who were physically abused by their parents went on to bully, become victims of bullying or both.

As students become able to reflect on their feelings and regulate their emotions, they begin to see the connections between their needs and their behavior. By observing without reacting, kids are more in control of themselves and more able to recognize emotions and needs in others.

Being a model of calm

We often live in chaos. We run from one thing to another, working late, missing meals, cutting vacations short, dragging kids to music lessons, baseball practice, swim lessons, play tryouts and so much more. The list can seem endless. We need to know that this hectic schedule has an impact on our children. It increases stress, which results in exhaustion, fear of failure and loss of attention and also may cause irritability, acting out or the inability to focus.

You can help your child cope with the challenges of childhood by handling your own adult challenges well, taking time to relax, avoiding knee-jerk reactions and practicing calm - maybe trying a little yoga. It's amazing what it can do for the mind and the spirit and our relationship with others.

Tom Tozer and Bill Black are authors of Dads2Dads: Tools for Raising Teenagers. Like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter at Dads2Dadsllc. Contact them at