Spreading Smiles: Be Buddies Not Bullies
Bullying is a national problem. At i-Orthodontics, we know a confidence-boosting smile is a key tool for building back the self-esteem of those who have been bullied.
“I’ll put it this way: When you come to i-Ortho, you are a part of my family and a part of my team’s family,” Dr. Idiculla (“Dr. I”) says.
“So if you have been bullied and you are a patient of ours, I will not tolerate it. We will come up constructively with a way to combat it because no one deserves it.”
Sometimes kids need an opportunity to share their bullying dilemma with someone they trust. At i-Orthodontics, we start the bullying conversation.
“No one is a bad dad or a bad mom,” if they aren’t aware of their child’s bullying, clarifies Dr. I. “We don’t ask kids about bullying to blame parents.”
Sometimes parents simply aren’t aware that it’s a problem in their child’s life, because no one has told them.
“A patient of mine, Sean, inspired me personally,” recalls Dr. I.
“He was self-conscious about his smile. Towards the end of treatment, his mother noticed that he was smiling a lot more and being more social.
“That actually gave Sean — believe it or not — the confidence to tell his mom that he had been bullied over the years. His mom broke down in the chair and thanked us. We had no idea, and she had no idea either.
“And she’s an amazing mother who is very involved in Sean’s life. She is very protective and very caring and nurturing of Sean.
“So sometimes that beautiful smile gives a young man or woman the confidence to tell their parents and teachers — and maybe bullies — about what’s going on in their world.
“We’re hoping we can give them the self-confidence to hopefully stop bullying at the front lines.”
“I think orthodontists have a really unique role in anti-bullying,” says Dr. I. “We straighten teeth and boost self-confidence, which is awesome.”
But in addition to that, we reach out to schools where we know bullying is happening, to start some anti-bullying programs for teachers and students.
With social media at the fingertips of many middle and high schoolers, cyberbullying continues to be a problem for kids. Equipping them with tools to combat bullying is important.
Dr. I admits, “it’s a little scary to stand up to bullies, but we can empower our youth to stand up to them. That doesn’t mean to bully the bully back. We don’t want to fight bullies with words or anything like that.”
But it’s important to try to understand the reason why bullies feel the need to exert power over other people.
Dr. I recognizes a bully’s behavior may stem from a lack of self-confidence, and that “they actually might be the ones crying out more than ever, that they need to build up their self-esteem.”
“The more we understand, not just how to combat bullies, but why bullies behave the way they do, it’s much easier to address the problem and actually diffuse the situation before it even starts.”
How can we support your school? Call or text us at 303.662.9000.
Some may think that bullying is a natural part of growing up. But the reality is that kids who are bullied — or bully others — experience lasting, serious problems. And the research proves it.
“Students who experience bullying are at increased risk for depression, anxiety, sleep difficulties, lower academic achievement, and dropping out of school,” according to the Centers for Disease Control, 2019.
According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, 2019 One out of every five (20.2%) students report being bullied and 41% of students who reported being bullied at school indicated that they think the bullying would happen again.
When it comes to bullying, kids need adult advocates working together to help them. Expecting kids to defend themselves against bullying isn’t enough.
Another statistic from the National Center for Educational Statistics, 2019 show that only 46% of bullied students report notifying an adult at school about the incident.
Kids don’t tell adults about bullying for many reasons, including fear of backlash from the bully, uncertainty whether they’ll be judged or understood by adults, and reluctance to be viewed as weak or a “tattletale.”
If you’re worried that your child might be struggling with bullying on their own, i-Orthodontics is ready to start that critical conversation with them. We provide a judgment-free space for honest, compassionate dialogue.
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