Dealing With Bullies in the Locker Room
In an earlier article ‘The Inside Scoop on Bullying’ I walked through what causes bullying. Let’s talk some more about this topic as it may be something happening in your child’s team.
The Stop Bullying website lists these Peer factors in youth that cause bullying:
- To attain or maintain social power or to elevate their status in their peer group.
- To show their allegiance to and fit in with their peer group.
- To exclude others from their peer group, to show who is and is not part of the group.
- To control the behavior of their peers.
One thing that happens with youth hockey teams is that new team members can come into the team after annual try outs. At that time of course, someone new is entering the group. This may be the time when one or more of the existing group decide to show they are boss.
Is this acceptable behavior? Of course, the answer is no because everyone should be okay with change, but some people aren’t. They don’t like the idea that they may be passed over, or shown up, especially if the child entering the group is talented in their skill or skating ability.
There is no easy way to deal with these types of situations.
Ignoring the bully won’t help.
If your child chooses to ignore the bullying in the locker room it is likely to continue. And if they don’t engage then the level of interaction from the bully will most likely increase. Ultimately the bully or bullies motive is to put down or demeanor your child.
They want your child to be seen as inferior or stupid by others in the locker room. Bullies won’t stop until they achieve that. They will continue to taunt, push, and do whatever else they can to diminish your child.
Invite your child to speak up.
In a July 2019 article by Samuel Lovett he said “sports organization often cast a blind eye to hazing and bullying, so ‘many of those suffering under this system remain frightened to come forward with their experiences given the repercussions they could face in speaking out against their coaches, teammates, clubs or governing bodies. Instead, they’re left to suffer in silence, not yet able or willing to take their story public.”
The hardest thing for your child may be to tell you they are being bullied in the locker room. Why won’t they speak up? Because they may think they will be laughed at or not believed, especially if we are talking about boys being bullied by other boys in a locker room.
It is important that your child knows they have someone to talk to about the bullying that is occurring.
The United States Department of Health and Human Services has a ‘Stop Bullying Now Hotline’ available 24/7. The number is 1-800-273-8255. If you know your child is struggling with handling these bullies and they don’t feel comfortable enough to talk to you about it, this is a resource for them to use.
Naturally, what you would want to be able to do is to have your child talk to you about the situation and for the two of you to be able to speak to the team coaching staff about the situation and have them address it. As you know that may not be a possibility.
Having trouble with the mental side of the game of hockey? Karen Cherrett, Mental Skills Coach helps players to understand how their thoughts impact their game; Parents how to support their child's mental wellness; and Coaches to understand mental skills management for their players.