First a take a close look at samples of bullying in the image above, read carefully and then watch the 2-minute video at the end.
I recently saw a parent hit a child who was bullying her child! Taking matters into her own hands was certainly the wrong thing to do. Unfortunately, many parents feel alone with the problem when it occurs and are very doubtful that their child’s school will help. But then again, many parents bully their children first at home and this ends up making children become bullies themselves or become victims of bullying. I would focus on approaches schools should take on this post and in the next post, tell how parents bully their children and how to stop it!
October is set aside for bringing awareness on bullying. A few years ago in October 2012, I wrote about bullying here. I believe that our schools need to take a greater role in handling bullying. Schools stand in a better position to provide more protection and support to children and their parents. Bullying occurs for a large part within the school’s perimeters – at break-time, in the playground, during recess or right outside the building. Schools should have professionals available who have a real capacity to be the positive force to stop these occurrences.
Bullying can be verbal, physical, or via the Internet. Most bullying are beginning to take place via social media platforms for older students but schools can play a powerful role in stopping this. Bullying can severely affect the victim’s self-image, social interactions, and school performance―often leading to insecurity, lack of self-esteem, and depression in adulthood. School dropout rates and absences among victims of bullying are much higher than among other students.
Studies have shown that children who have been identified as bullies by age 8 are six times more likely to have a criminal conviction by age 24.Children who are bullies may continue to be bullies as adults, and are more prone to becoming child and spouse abusers.
Ways Schools can Prevent Bullying
1. As part of the curriculum, students should learn to identify bullying language and actions in themselves and others. They should also be taught positive communication skills. This knowledge will help create a more positive environment where bullying is less likely to occur.
2. There should be an established system for a child to report being bullied (anonymously, if needed) and get immediate help. A counselor and other professionals should meet with the children involved and their families to determine a solution.
3. There should be classroom discussions about the motivation and effects of bullying to sensitize students and promote self-awareness. Children should understand that bullies are children who have experienced some form of bullying themselves. They behave aggressively in an attempt to retaliate. They are children who feel powerless and suffer from low self-esteem. They attempt to heighten their self-esteem by surrounding themselves with other children whom they feel they can control, who often feel insecure themselves. Bullies then find someone to diminish in an attempt to inflate themselves. It should be emphasized that children who are bullied suffer terribly. This education can help the children to make better, more positive choices and to become the school’s partners in eliminating bullying.
4. Professionals should teach the children skills for handling bullies through role-playing and other technics. For example, the students can write plays and act out different bullying scenarios in the classroom. Each child should act out being the bully, the bully’s supporter and the victim, to gain a more tangible understanding.
4. Counseling should be available to children who are bullied, for the bullies and for those who help the bullies. When needed, these children should be referred to outside therapists for on-going help.
5. There should be school-wide events that focus the student body on bullying, for instance, “Bullying Awareness Tuesdays.” There could be activities in each class such as designing slogans to put on the walls such as: “It’s wrong to bully others” or “It’s wrong to go along with a bully.” A child who reports bullying should be rewarded.
6. Schools should have strong repercussions for bullying. Bullying is now an illegal offense and there should be zero tolerance for this behavior. At the same time schools should offer real efforts to get to the bottom of the cause, by having discussions with the child’s family and the child. Families need to examine their family relationships and make sure there is no bullying going on at home.
7. If your child’s school has no support system in place, your parents’ association should lobby for the school to develop one.
Bullying has been a part of society since it’s inception, and will not easily disappear. But with the joint effort of schools, parents and the children, going to school can become a healthier and safer experience. Most importantly, the scourge that is bullying will come to its end when school leaders and students realize that it’s a group effort to combat this epidemic.
See how one school took this to a whole new level. Lake Brantley High School’s Leadership class has created a growing anti-bullying campaign called, To Be Kind.