By Tyler Jacobson

As a father, I have watched my son, who is not interested in sports, social media, the latest trends or even parties, face bullying and rejection. While he might be a so-called ‘social misfit’ in some respects, he studies hard, takes honors and AP classes and is on pace to graduate in the top five of his entire student body. However, he has paid a high price socially for what he has accomplished academically.

The “Dumbing Down” of America

Over the years, the focus in schools has drastically shifted. While the education system used to concentrate on the humanities, arts, math and science, has been exchanged for entertainment and even intentional ignorance. Several factors have contributed to the “dumbing down” of America, including the easy access to videos and entertainment, a lack of accountability in society and a drop in basic knowledge of history, geography, science and math. The general public maintains an irrational attitude that actually rejects intelligence instead of embracing it.

Tipping the Scales

Some students who focus on academics might struggle socially. Their social ineptness makes them further targets for bullies, who often belong to groups who focus on entertainment, social media, partying and sports. This differs greatly from countries, such as China, Japan, France and other European and Asian countries where academics given a much greater priority than sports. Television and the media perpetuate these negative images of intellects and reinforce positive images of sports figures.

Tips to Combat Bullies

When my child faced bullies, I gave him the following tips:

  • Label personal belongings so that it’s clear that they belong to you.
  • Act confident instead of fearful.
  • Laugh off the situation and make a joke.
  • Stay in a group with friends.
  • Avoid scenarios where bullies gather.
  • Leave as quickly as possible and
  • Talk to an adult and seek help.

The goal was for the bullying to stop immediately and end the behavior. When my son dealt with cyber bullying, he especially struggled as he did not even know the source of the problem. However, these tips helped him:

  • Don’t respond to any ugly posts as these make matters worse. Don’t feed the trolls.
  • Don’t retaliate by bullying back.
  • Instead, block communication with the person, including their cell number and email address.
  • Delete the person from your social media.
  • Speak with law enforcement if a cyberbully sends inappropriate sexual material or threatens you.
  • Seek help from an adult

How to Help Someone Else Who Is Being Bullied

  • Stick by their side so that they aren’t alone.
  • Do not be a passive bystander
  • Stand up for the person by telling the bully to quit harassing the victim.
  • Do not try to fight the bully as it could make the situation worse.
  • Tell an adult, such as a counselor, teacher, youth leader or parent.

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I reminded my son that a person’s rude treatment of him says much more about that person than it does about my son. However, teens who can manage to find that delicate balance between sports and academics might do better in school due to increased self-confidence and improved concentration levels. Schools that emphasize both sports and academics tend to be in an area with more overall resources. Even so, schools need to protect curious teens that focus on academics instead of on sports.

Tyler Jacobson

As a father of three, Tyler Jacobson lends his parenting experiences for the learning benefit of parents everywhere. For years he has researched and writes for Liahona Academy and other organizations that help troubled boys, focusing on topics surrounding social media use, teenage education, serious addiction issues, mental and behavioral disorders, and abnormal teenage stress. Follow Tyler on: Twitter | LinkedIn
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