2.7 million U.S. students are bullied each year while 2.1 million of their peers take on the role of bullies, research says. As many as 56% of students reported having seen a bullying crime occur at school. Bullying in this regard is understood as “the use of physical, psychological and verbal aggression to intimidate others to submit to the will of another and/or cause emotional upset”. Scholars, educators, and activists all say that bullying should be stopped, yet they often fail to agree on the role of parents in managing their children’s bullying behavior. While it is certainly true that bullying behavior is produced by children, the passive attitude of many parents have left the psychologists and educators in uproar regarding the parental responsibility for their children’s bullying behavior. The opinions of the public are generally split. Some people say it is neither fair nor effective to hold parents responsible for the bullying behavior displayed by their children. Others feel that parents should be held responsible and punished for how their children act. As a many-time witness of bullying at middle school, I side with the voices who feel that punishing parents for their children’s bullying is fair and effective because parents are the persons who have the greatest duty and the biggest opportunity to influence their children.
First and foremost, parents should be held responsible and punished for the bullying of their children because they are the persons in charge of their children’s upbringing. It is parents’ duty to educate the child in a way that he or she does not become a bully and, in this educational efforts, parents even “must make home a school”. Researchers state that parents are not only partners in their children’s academic learning but they are also partners in their children’s development as personalities and citizens. They argue that childrearing has always been the prerogative of parents, so “enacting certain types of responsibility toward his or her child becomes central to his or her relation with the child”.
Also, parents have the greatest opportunity to influence their children. Scholars argue that parents have a myriad of opportunities to interact with their children and teach them the principles of morality. These include: everyday activities and table conversations. Another one is having access to a child’s social media accounts. Specifically, Dr. Sherryl Kraizer asserts that parents should teach children how to manage their emotions and behavior if the latter are physically aggressive or angry; explain why bullying is unacceptable in the family and what its consequences are; as well as listen to the child and understand his feelings. Another method of teaching the child is through personal example and the climate in the family. Setting a good example by making sure one does not bully or intimidate other people is the first item on the list of the recommendations for parents of bullies. Researchers make it specific that bullying is not only about pushing other people around physically, but also about putting someone down and mocking at him or her, spreading rumors in a malicious manner, excluding someone, or sending mean messages using mobile phones.
Overall, parents of the bullies should be held responsible for their children’s misbehavior because they have the duty and opportunity to influence their children. Even though it is children that bully others at school, parents stand behind such children as they either failed to educate them or failed to set a good example at home.