It’s so upsetting to discover that your child is being bullied. If only we could protect them from the cruelty some kids dish out. But what if the bullying isn’t coming from the kids, but from other children’s parents?
This disturbing new parenting trend has been labelled “social engineering” and writer Lisa Barr says it’s growing by the minute.
Barr explains that “social engineering” is when overly involved parents bully other people’s children, in order to progress or maintain their own child’s social status. If this weren’t disturbing enough, Barr says she’s come across hundreds of incidents of parents bullying kids and is so concerned she feels it may be contributing to teen suicide.
She started the blog GIRLilla warfare to discuss the issue and says we can't underestimate the damage being done by these mean mums.
"One of the main reasons I started this blog was because of the overabundance of Middle School war stories that I had been hearing from so many moms. Same story, different players. And I hate to say this, but the root of this particular social evil, is usually (sadly) initiated by a group of Moms. One of our GW writers pointed out in another blog, that those Moms decide who is IN and who is OUT. It is political, and it is what we at GIRLilla Warfare call “Suburban Social Engineering” which ends up causing many children deep, unnecessary pain," Barr wrote.
How unimaginably hurtful for our children to be excluded from social situations by parents hellbent on ensuring their own children's social status, regardless of the feelings of other vulnerable young people.
Barr recently spoke with ABC in the US to discuss the trend and what can be done about it. Post continues after this video...
In one example a mum boarded a camp bus and roped off a section for her child and her so-called "cool" friends. When a girl boarded and asked to join the group the mean mum told her no. Another incident occurred when a mum rang a camp director and asked that a particular child be moved out of her assigned cabin so her own daughter and her friends could have the place to themselves.
Barr told ABC these mums are taking helicopter parenting way too far.
"Everyone's heard of the helicopter mum. This is taking it one step further. What they try and do is elevate their own child's social status at the expense of other kids," she said.
Barr says the behaviour of these parents is bullying, it's damaging and it's got to stop.
"Don’t get me wrong. Many kids choose to be with whom they feel most comfortable, and that’s totally acceptable," Barr writes in her blog. "It’s the piece in which the Moms not only helicopter but also patrol kids’ potential friendships that I’m focusing on here."
She says these mean mums want their children to be happy and see popularity as the key to this. "What they believe if their parents are in the group then their kids will be happy."
"These mums really have no pity for the other child."
Barr says many mums are too scared to confront this disturbing behaviour just in case their own children are then shunned but that the only way to stop this trend is to do just that, to save other children from being hurt.
"My point: Make the damn call. If you see a child being left out, bullied, or worse, and you know about it — don’t be afraid to stand up for someone else’s kid. You can always use anonymity and call the principal to get the ball rolling," she suggested.
Has your child ever been bullied by another parent?
If you suspect your child or someone you know is being bullied please contact the Kid's Helpline on 1800 55 1800.