Bullying Signs And Steps To Take
Bullying is very common. Even in pre kindergarten, children experience bullying. Tackling bullying is a necessary step if bullying is to be stopped. Parents and caregivers need to arm children with whatever skills necessary to combat bullying as bullying has been known to make life real miserable.
Bullying is not a one-time deal. It’s repetitive, caustic, and sometimes devastating in its violence-with consequences that can last a lifetime. Moreover . . .
1. Pennsylvania is the fourth worst state to live in when it comes to bullying.
2. According to a U.S. Department of Education/U.S. Justice Department report, 32% of our 12- to 18-year-old have been victimized by a classmate.
3. In a recent National Institutes of Health study of 1,782 children in grades six through ten, 20.8% had either physically bullied others or been bullied; 53.5% were victims of verbal bullying; 51.4% experienced relational bullying, such as exclusion, rumors, and cyber bullying.
4. Bullying seems to peak in middle school–particularly in 7th and 8th grade.
5. Girls are more likely to be victims of relational bullying, while boys are more often involved in physical or verbal abuse.
6. Bullying is enabled by good people who do nothing-in other words, bystanders who witness or hear about abuse, walk away, and keep silent. That includes adults.
The problem has also gone way beyond name-calling, teasing, and shunning. There seem to be no limits nowadays, which is why so many school districts across the country have already implemented anti-bullying programs, such as Olweus.
Says attorney Joseph Braun, “It’s starting to become more physical, more sexual, and it’s not just emotional bullying like we’ve seen in the past.” Consider the five California students who plastic- wrapped and duct-taped a classmate, then proceeded to mock him-and tried several times to attach him to a wall, as well. Only a trickle of blood brought the horror to an end. Several witnesses fled the scene and stayed mum. Then there was the recent rape with a hockey stick and broom handle of a ninth grade Florida boy by four flag football players . . .
Worse yet, many children don’t tell anyone what’s going on, sometimes out of fear it will only make matters worse or be told to either ignore the bully and walk away or not make such a big deal about it. It is a big deal, however, and parents must be watchful.
Signs to Look For:
o Disarrayed clothing
o Damaged books
o A reluctance to go to school
o Repeated complaints of headaches and stomach aches
o Sleep issues
o Loss of interest in school and/or favorite activities
o Anxious and/or depressed affect
o Few friends and few invitations
When your suspicions are confirmed or your child comes to you . . .
- Don’t be dismissive. Listen carefully, quietly, and without interruption.
- Take the problem seriously, but don’t over-react
- Don’t blame your child or act as if she somehow invited the abusive behavior
- Make home a safe haven-a place where your child can speak openly and unconditionally.
- Encourage your child to get involved in a hobby, sport, or scouting
- Cultivate your child’s social skills
- Make sure your child feels supported and knows that you’re on her/his side
- Encourage new friends.
- Don’t call the bully’s parents
- Be truthful about how you’ll proceed, starting with contacting your child’s teacher(s)
Don’t be surprised if your child reacts negatively to the prospect of your involving the school, but make the call despite the heart-breaking pleading; you can’t handle this entirely on your own. Explain that bullying is a problem for all children, hence all adults, and teachers are your first line of defense and need to be alerted.
When you make the call, be sure to have your facts–who, what, where, when, and how-straight, documented and dated. Expect a call back from your child’s teacher(s) within a few days-hopefully that same day. If no remedy is forthcoming, request a meeting with the principal. Meanwhile, don’t forget to summarize and date all contacts with school personnel.
If the abuse warrants it, such as in the case of a physical or sexual assault, contact the police immediately and have a report typed up. Bullies, Bystanders, and their parents must be held accountable-and they are in our courts of law.
Bottom line: Don’t go it alone; take action, empowering your child with your support and empathy. Yes, kids will be kids, but the rules have unfortunately changed, making bullying an even bigger deal nowadays. And remember: so-called harmless mistreatment can, over time, escalate.
Carol is a learning specialist who worked with middle school children and their parents at the Methacton School District in Pennsylvania for more than 25 years and now supervises student teachers at Gwynedd-Mercy College. Along with the booklet, 149 Parenting School-Wise Tips: Intermediate Grades & Up, and numerous articles in such publications as Teaching Pre-K-8 and Curious Parents, she has authored three successful learning guidebooks: Getting School-Wise: A Student Guidebook, Other-Wise and School-Wise: A Parent Guidebook, and ESL Activities for Every Month of the School Year. She also writes for examiner.com; read her articles at http://www.examiner.com/x-6261-Montgomery-County-Wise-Parenting-Examiner For more information, go to http://www.schoolwisebooks.com
Article Source: Expert/Carol_Josel