Bullying: It can be unlearned
Family members (parents, siblings, grandparents), and close friends play a key role in facilitating the prevention of bullying. They also provide children and other youth with coping skills needed to minimize the severity of a bullying experience.
Bullying can take many forms, such as: violence (hitting or punching) teasing, name calling, intimidation through gestures or facial expressions, social exclusion and sending insulting messages or pictures by mobile phone or the internet (cyberbullying).
General advice for parents is to follow these steps:
- Brush up on the modern forms of bullying that your child may be subjected to at school, on the playground and other places in the community.
- Use strategies to try to prevent bullying and help children deal with bullying experiences.
- Go to your local library or search online for useful materials that you can use to assist children in your family, school and community.
What Can Teachers Do?
When faced with a child who is displaying symptoms of being bullied, delicately ask about being picked on or teased before, during or after school. This child may have difficulty focusing on class work, be reluctant to attend school or have a variety of psychosomatic conditions. If you discover your student is being bullied, teach him or her to remain calm and to have the courage to walk away from a fight.
Encourage your student to develop strong friendships. Children with loyal friends are less likely to be bullied. Remember that bullying and being bullied are both associated with higher rates of carrying weapons and fighting seriously enough to result in injury. These associations seem to be stronger for bullies than for targets. Call his or her parents to let them what is going on. It is a team effort to eradicate bullying at school!
- Do NOT punish a target of bullying no matter what the circumstances.
- Do NOT allow excuses. Encourage kids to take responsibility for what their role was. Use "I" talk - "I felt angry when they said this or that..." "I pushed them when they hurt my feelings..." "I did this when he or she did that to me..."
- Identify the causes. If you know why kids are bullying (the bullies themselves), you may be able to stop the bullying. Bullying is a learned behavior. Make sure that you are not a role model for unacceptable behavior in school. Sometimes bullies are acting out for attention. Are you giving enough attention at at school? Take a look at why your student is a bully and address it at the root cause. Get professional help if necessary.
- Enforce consequences. Stick to your principles. Tell your students what you expect and what is not to be tolerated at school. Take charge! When the school has alerted parents that their child is aggressive or a bully, insist that the parents take the issue seriously.
The following resources are offered free of charge from COMMON SENSE MEDIA.ORG. Here, you will find resources for curriculum, discussion groups, parent handouts, videos and whatever you will need to support a zero tolerance policy for bullying in your school. If we all work together, we can STOP BULLYING NOW!