Bullying Program Held for Parents, Educators and Community Leaders
Bullying is the most common form of school violence today, according to the Bullying Mini-Guide for Parents.
During the program, LPSO Deputy and D.A.R.E. Officer Jenny Parker offered information and strategies for discussing bullying with a child and dealing with known or suspected bullying.
“I encourage the kids to be good citizens and to lend a hand and help those who are being bullied, that way they can take a stand against bullying,” Parker said. “The main thing to know is that bullying will not stop without adult intervention. Parents need to help their kids develop a high self-esteem, so they have the courage to stand up to a bully and tell them to stop as well as report it to an adult.”
The program was well attended with dozens of parents, educators and other community members present to discuss the important issue.
What is Bullying?
Bullying occurs whenever a person or group of persons repeatedly hurts, embarrasses or frightens someone on purpose. Methods include: pushing, shoving, tripping, kicking, hitting, slapping, racist, sexist or bigoted remarks, name-calling, teasing, making threats, intimidation, spreading rumors or lies, stealing or vandalizing someone’s belongings, leaving someone out, sending hurtful emails or texts, harassment, creating malicious websites or cruelly using social media. Bullying, according to the mini-guide for parents handout, creates a fearful school climate, leads to absenteeism, causes loneliness, depression, anxiety problems and eating disorders, increases the risk of suicide and hurts everyone.
Parker said bullying isn’t only found in a school system. “There is bullying in Pre-K all way to 12th grade, college and the workplace,” Parker said. “It’s not just at school. It’s everywhere. That’s why we all need to work together to take a stand against bullying.”
Parker said the best thing parents can do for their children is build their self-esteem and be positive role models. She said it’s also important to realize it takes time to resolve bullying problems.
“Bullying is learned behavior whether it’s from other bullies at school or from others in their lives,” Parker said. “Kids need to be taught to stand up to bullying. Preventing bullying is about educating ourselves to recognize bullying and know how to handle it.”
Is Your Child Being Bullied?
Some of the warning signs of bullying are a child’s loss of interest in school, refusal to attend school or wanting to take a different route to school. Other signs are that the child seems happy on weekends but not on weekdays, suddenly prefers adult company, has frequent illness, nightmares or insomnia or returns from school with unexplained scratches, bruises or damaged clothing.
Other signs are that the child seems withdrawn, anxious or fearful and won’t say what’s wrong, develops sudden behavior changes (such as bed-wetting, tics, appetite loss, stuttering), wants to carry “protection,” has few or no friends and/or is rarely invited to social events, has started bullying others and is aggressive, rebellious or unreasonable, develops sudden interest in violent movies/video games, talks about being picked on or avoiding certain areas of school and running away or committing suicide.
What to Do If Your Child is Bullied
Do: stay calm and project confidence that you, your child and the school will be able to work together to resolve the bullying situation; find out what has happened and keep a log of who, what, when and where; ask questions and believe what your child tells you, contact your child’s teacher as soon as possible.
Also ask your child’s teacher for a private meeting and share the written record of what your child has told you. Talk through specifics of what the teacher, the school, your child and you will do to stop the bullying. You can also help your child learn to be “bully proof” and practice ways to stand, walk, talk and cope with bullying. Help your child build skills for making and keeping friends. Ask the teacher or school counselor for suggestions.
Don’t: promise to keep the bullying a secret. It’s critical to inform teachers so everyone can work together to stop the bullying. Also you should not contact parents of the bully, since they often become defensive. Confronting them will nearly always make things worse.
Do not encourage your child to fight back, which will only put your child in further danger. Instead, tell your child to talk to a teacher when bullying occurs. Don’t blame your child for the bullying. Blaming closes off communication and leaves your child feeling helpless. Communicate clearly that your child did nothing to ask for or deserve the bullying.
What to Do If Your Child is Bullying
Is Your Child Bullying Others? Some warning signs include: has money/possessions that can’t be explained (or claims they belong to a friend), ignores or breaks rules and pushes boundaries, behaves aggressively toward siblings, is always determined to win and has trouble losing, gets excited when conflicts arise between others, stays calm during own conflicts, hides negative behaviors, denies responsibility when discovered, or blames others for personal problems
Other signs are that the child seeks to dominate or manipulate others, has difficulty fitting into groups and seems to enjoy other people’s fear, discomfort or pain and shows little or no empathy for others.
What to Do if the Teacher Tells You Your Child is Bullying
-Talk with your child, knowing that she or he might deny the bullying. Remain calm and make it clear that bullying is not acceptable to you.
-Talk privately with the teacher and other school personnel. Get the facts and ask to be kept informed. Work with the school and maintain contact about your child’s progress.
-Apply reasonable, age-appropriate consequences (such as time-outs or withdrawn privileges). Don’t threaten, yell, hit or withhold affection. These actions say that “might is right”; they hurt, rather than help.
-Encourage your child’s efforts to change. Offer praise for following home and school rules.
-Reassure your child of your love. Say that you’ll work together to change the behavior—and that you won’t give up on your child.
-Also follow the “What to Do If You Think Your Child is Bullying Others” guidelines below.
What to Do If You Think Your Child is Bullying Others
–Spend positive time with your child. Show interest in what’s going on at school, with friends and in the neighborhood. Encourage open talk about strong feelings and tough issues.
–Monitor screen time. Research shows violent television, websites and video games have a negative impact on children.
–Supervise. Set reasonable limits; make a point to always know where your child is and who he or she is with.
–Help with social skills. Ask the school about an anger management or conflict resolution group your child can join. Practice new skills through role-play.
What to Tell Bystanders
Bullying involves not only kids who bully and kids who are bullied but also bystanders. Enlist this important group of participants to be “bully busters.”
Make it clear that you and the school want every student to do the following when others are bullied: refuse to join in, do not ignore bullying that you see or are aware of. By doing nothing, you are participating in the bullying. If possible, stand up for the bullied student. Tell the bully, “Don’t treat him that way!” or “Stop hitting her”. Report all bullying to a teacher or school official and never fight the person who bullies because it’s not safe and it will make the bullying problem worse, not better.
For more information, contact Parker at 992-7364 or visit www.bullyfree.com, a website with additional tips for parents, teachers and students along with statistics, resources and useful links to information about bullying, discipline and suicide prevention and www2.ed.gov/osdfs, the website of the office of the U.S. Department of Education which offers a great deal of information including an action plan for decreasing instances of bullying and school violence.