Things we are doing with bullying.
Teasing and being teased are normal parts of growing up. Bullying is not. Many times, adults are hard-pressed to differentiate between the two, and they may either overreact to normal teasing interactions between and among students or fail to react to incidents of true bullying. Real bullying happens when there is a power imbalance between the bully and the victim. It usually happens when the bully has a power base of other children supporting and “egging” the bully on. At school, we are going to do everything in our power to make sure that bullying is not happening. The adults of this school will watch for these situations. We will go over things to watch for and let our children know how to respond either when they are being bullied or when they see bullying. The best thing you can do to help us is to let your children know that if they are being bullied, they need to assert themselves and tell the bully to stop doing what they are doing. If they don’t get help, either from their peers or those around and the bullying continues, they should seek help from an adult here at school. Being physical with a bully won’t stop the bullying; sometimes it even makes it worse. My final statement about bullying is that if you receive information that your child is “bullying” someone; please don’t automatically assume the school is picking on your child. Kids that bully believe they are justified in what they are doing. Obviously, they won’t tell you that they are at fault. Help us by setting them down and visiting with them about why the school might believe they are being a bully. Bullying hurts everyone, even the bully.
Ideas about bullying.
I thought I would share some more information that might help you with ideas and understanding bullying. Did you know...? Bullying is when a child is the target, over time, of repeated negative actions. It is not bullying when two children of approximately the same age, strength, or developmental level fight or quarrel. Bullying means there is an imbalance of power so that the child being victimized has trouble defending himself or herself. The reason I give you this example and definition is that there is so much misunderstanding about bullying. So many people believe that every teasing incident, fighting incident, chasing incident, etc. is an example of bullying. With real bullying, children need and deserve adult intervention and help. Without intervention, the problem will not go away. Bullies will keep on bullying unless adults do something about it.
Who are bullies and why do they bully?
1. Both boys and girls bully, but their tactics are usually different. Boys usually bully with physical aggression, girls with social alienation or humiliation.
2. Bullies are not anxious, insecure children, but have positive (often unrealistic) self-images that reflect a strong need to dominate with power and threat.
3. Bullies are not loners, but almost always have a small network of peers who encourage, admire, and model their bullying behavior.
4. Bullies tend to be at least average or only slightly below average academically.
5. Bullies come in all sizes, and bullies can even intimidate victims who are physically larger than they if there’s an imbalance in power.
6. Bullies lack compassion for their victims, and feel justified in their actions.
7. Bullies value the rewards they achieve from aggression, such as attention, control over someone, or material possessions.
8. Looking different is one reason children are victimized, but not the main reason. Isolation and personality type are more often determining factors.
9. Returned aggression is not usually effective, and in fact excites the bully into further attacks. Assertion, rather than aggression, is effective however.
10. If all adults within a school are committed to preventing bullying behavior, requesting adult intervention will help in equalizing the power imbalance between the bully and victim.
11. When bullies are confronted with a united front of their peers who support the victims and believe that their own bullying behavior is not socially acceptable, their power is defused.
12. Some teachers are threatened by conflict-ridden situations and aggressive children. If you are one of these teachers, ask for help.
13. Bullies can separate home from school, and be taught responsible school behavior even when aggression is modeled and reinforced at home.
14. Bullying behavior does not usually change with traditional therapy but requires specific intervention techniques that increase skill deficits and correct thinking errors.
15. It is not a good strategy to bring the parent(s) of a bully and the parent(s) of a victim together, and should be avoided at all costs.
16. The cycle of victimization can be broken by working at the school and classroom levels, and by working with an individual child who is victimized.
17. The responsibility for the aggression is the bullies’. However, victims of bullying are not randomly targeted but victimized because of characteristics and behaviors which make them easier targets for a bully. These include being physically weak, crying easily, being anxious and insecure, and lacking age-appropriate social skills.
18. Students with special education needs may be at greater risk of being bullied by others due to factors such as their disability or the fact that they may be less well integrated socially. If they have behavior problems and act out aggressively, they can become victims. If they have trouble processing social cues, they may act shy and inhibited and become passive victims.
Bully-Proofing your School, Sopris West, 1994
Teach children strategies that may help.
Teaching children to solve their own problems with peers is a difficult task. Some children seem to naturally do this better than others. We do know that those children who are not good at this skill can be taught strategies which assist them. There are no absolute right and wrong ways to solve problems, but there are techniques that may work better at different ages and developmental levels.
Teach children to work together.
•Encourage children to stand up to a bully or reach out to excluded peers.
•Teach children that being a silent bystander enables bullying to continue.
•Celebrate acts of kindness.
•Reinforce the availability of adult support.
•Transform the “silent majority” into a “caring majority”.
Distinguish between “ratting” and “reporting.”
•Many adolescents do not want to get their peers in trouble, particularly if the bully is popular.
•Establish a non-threatening way for students to report bullying.
•Identify which staff handle bullying issues. But, all staff should be trained and responsible.
•Make it clear that students can contact any trusted adult.
Teach children strategies to counter bullying.
•Stand up for themselves verbally, by saying “I don’t like what you said or did” or “You can say whatever you want, but it is not true”.
•Walk away from the bully.
Teach Children to:
•Think of positive images or statements about themselves to bolster self-esteem.
•Get help from an adult.
•Stay out of hidden corners and within signt of adult supervisors.
Praise children for appropriate social behaviors.
•Model interactions that do not include bullying or aggression.
•Catch your child doing something good and offer positive reinforcement.
•Encourage children to support their peers.
I would like to close this paper with a few more facts that you might find interesting:
Nearly 25% of teachers report that they do not think it is necessary to intervene in bullying.
Over two-thirds of students believe that schools respond poorly to bullying, with a high percentage of students beleiving that adult help is infrequent and ineffective.
Bullying is two to three times more likely to occur at school as on the way to and from school.
Bullying, NASSP, November