Bully Prevention By Timber Monteith & Laura Cowan
Definition “Bullying occurs when a student is repeatedly harmed, psychologically and/or physically, by another student (person) or a group of students (people)” (Olweus, 1993).
Scenes from a Tragedy Act I – Survey the Landscape Bully – surveys the playground or hallway, identifies a target, looks to see if any adults are paying attention Bullied – unaware he/she is being observed Bystanders –laughing & enjoying one another’s company
Act II – Test Run The Bully – may brush up against the target as if by accident, observes the reaction from the bullied and the bystanders, may use crude and hurtful names The Bullied – may react with a shrug, is uneasy and feels fear in his/her gut, doesn’t know what to do The Bystander – may either look away or laugh (giving support and approval to the bully)
Act III - Action Bully – may shove the target and view him/her as an object of ridicule, not as an equal Bullied – may blame him/herself for being attacked, feels powerless, may try to rationalize that the bully really doesn’t mean to cause any harm Bystanders – some may move away & feel guilty for not stopping the bullying. Others may join in and taunt the target. Depersonalization & desensitization.
Act IV - Emboldened Bully – may finds new opportunities to taunt & torment; feels more powerful as he/she gains control over victim Bullied – may spend class time trying to figure out way to avoid bully; cannot concentrate on schoolwork; gets physically sick; makes excuses to avoid playground, bathroom, lunchroom, etc…; feels hopeless & helpless Bystanders – may break into two camps: one group stays clear of bully & confrontation; second group joins in the bullying. Both fear the bully & rationalize the target had it coming & is outside their circle of caring; glad it’s not them
Act V – Pinnacle of Pain Bully – may continue to torment & hurt target with increased viciousness; may become labeled a bully; fails to develop healthy relationships; may not feel empathy towards victim; views self as powerful & well liked; sense of entitlement Bullied – may slump further into depression & rage – angry with self, bully, bystanders, & adults who wouldn’t or couldn’t help; also feels pressure & shame because now struggling academically; spends time thinking of ways to get revenge; might join other “undesirables” who plot revenge; withdraws further into isolation & exile Bystanders- may remain fearful of bully & blame target for being a victim; join the bullying; shrug shoulders as do not see others intervening; see no need to stop it
Act VI - Finale Bully – might grow up with poor sense of self, stunted social skills, aggressive; may become a bully in personal, social, & work relationships; continue cycle of violence; may move onto criminal activities Bullied – may do whatever he/she can to get rid of the pain (often results in pent-up rage exploding into violent aggression) Bystander – may either get caught in the crossfire, grow up guilt-ridden for not doing anything, or become desensitized to bullying
A Typical Bullying Scenario with a Not So Typical Ending
Four Markers of Bullying 1. Imbalance of Power Older Bigger Stronger More verbally adept Higher up on social ladder Different race Opposite sex Number of kids against one person
Four Markers of Bullying 2. Intent to Harm Emotional pain Physical pain Expects the action to hurt Takes pleasure in witnessing the hurt Not an accident, not playful teasing, not a slip of the tongue
Four Markers of Bullying 3. Threat of Further Aggression Both bully & bullied know the bullying can probably occur again If support is not sought or received or if it is not dealt with appropriately, the bullying may not be a one time event.
Four Markers of Bullying When bullying escalates…4th element is added: TERROR Bullying is systematic violence used to intimidate and maintain dominance Bully acts without fear of retaliation or recrimination Bullied rendered so powerless that unlikely to fight back or tell anyone about it.
3 Main Types of Bullying 1. Verbal – words are powerful tools to break the spirit of a child at the receiving end 2. Physical – most readily identifiable, but accounts for less than 1/3 of bullying incidents 3. Non-verbal – ignoring, isolating, excluding, shunning, starting/spreading rumors. At it’s most powerful during middle school years as young teens are trying to figure out who they are & trying to fit in with their peers.
What Bullies have in Common Dominate other people Use other people to get what they want Find it hard to see a situation from another person’s vantage point Are concerned with only their own wants & pleasures, and not the needs, rights & feelings of others Tend to hurt others when adults are not around
What Bullies have in Common View weaker siblings and peers as prey Use blame, criticism & false allegations to project their own inadequacies onto their target Refuse to accept responsibility for their actions Lack foresight Crave attention Role models often use aggression
What Bullies have in Common It’s not the bully we dislike, it’s the behavior that we do not like. Bullies are often acting out in an unhealthy manner the pain they are feeling.
Contempt is the Key Bullying is often NOT about anger or conflict towards the target. Bullies are often acting out anger from a different source Bullying is about contempt – a powerful feeling of dislike toward somebody considered to be worthless, inferior, or undeserving of respect (more often than not bullies are feeling this way about themselves). Bullies often feel a sense of entitlement, an intolerance towards differences, and a liberty to exclude.
Teasing vs. Taunting Teasing: Teaser and person teased can easily swap roles No intention of hurting anyone Maintains basic dignity of everyone involved It is meant for both parties to laugh Is only a small part of activities shared by kids Is innocent in motive Is discontinued should someone become upset or objects to the teasing Teasing is necessary part of socializing & building relationships Flirtation
Teasing vs. Taunting Taunting: Based on imbalance of power and is one-sided Is intended to harm Involves humiliation, cruel, demeaning, or bigoted comments thinly disguised as a joke Includes laughter directed at the target, not with the target Is meant to diminish the self-worth of the target Includes fear of further taunting and can be prelude to physical bullying Continues especially when targeted kid becomes distressed or objects to the taunts Sexual harassment
The Bullied are often kids who: Are the new kids on the block Youngest in the school Have been traumatized by other life events Are submissive & lack self-confidence Have behaviors others find annoying Are unwilling or unable to stand up for themselves Are shy, reserved, quiet and unassuming Are rich or poor Whose race, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation are viewed by the bully as inferior, deserving of contempt
The Bullied are often kids who: Are bright, talented, gifted and ‘stand out’ Expresses emotions easily Appear physically different from norms of age group wear braces or glasses Have acne or another skin condition Have physical attributes that are different from the majority Have a physical or mental disability
Kids who are bullied often do not tell anyone about it because: They are ashamed of being bullied They are afraid of retaliation They don’t think anyone can help They don’t think anyone will help They believe the lie that it’s okay because bullying is part of growing up They believe that adults are part of the lie, since it is not only kids who are bullying them The have learned that “ratting” on a bully is not cool
So Now What? What do we do if a child says he/she is being bullied?
A few do’s if your child is bullied Say “I hear you, I am here for you, I believe you, you are not alone in this” Validate your child’s feelings Help your child see that it is not his/her fault Talk with your child about an effective plan Report bullying to the school Help your child develop a strong sense of self.
A few don’ts if your child is bullied Do not minimize, rationalize, or explain the bully’s behavior Do not rush to solve the problem for your child Do not tell your child to avoid the bully unless physical safety is an issue Do not tell your child to fight back Do not confront the bully or the bully’s parents alone.
Remember! Bystanders can be part of the problem or part of the solution
No Innocent Bystanders Followers/Henchmen – take active part but do not start the bullying Supporters – support bullying but do not take active part Passive Supporters – who like bullying but do not display open support Disengaged onlookers – watch what happens, but do not take a stand Possible Defenders – do not like bullying and think they should help out, but don’t Defenders of the Target – do not like bullying and try to help
Lame Excuses Why do 81% (Olweus, 1995) take part in bullying or turn a blind eye? The bully is my friend It’s not my problem. It’s not my fight The target is not my friend He’s a loser She deserved to be bullied, asked for it, had it coming The bullying will toughen him up I don’t want to be a rat or a snitch It’s better to be in the “in” group than with the outcasts I don’t want to be the next target
What can you do at home to prevent bullying? Parents give their kids 6 critical life messages every day I believe in you I trust you I know you can handle life situations You are listened to You are cared for You are very important to me THESE MESSAGES HELP CHILDREN TO BUFFER THE POSSIBLE IMPACTS OF A BULLY, OR FROM THE NEED TO BECOME A BULLY!
What can you do at home to prevent bullying? Listen to your child with an open mind Create opportunities for your child to talk about their lives Spend time with one another (Family Dinners!) Each person talks about best, worst, & funniest part of the day.
What can you do if your child bullies? 1). Intervene immediately with discipline – the goals should be to instruct, teach, guide, and help your child become self-disciplined Show child that he/she has done something wrong (don not mince words) Give child ownership of the problem – no excuses Give child a process to solve the problem he/she created Leave dignity intact (child is not a bad person, but the act of bullying was not that of a caring, responsible person Find out why and what triggered this behavior
What can you do if your child bullies? 2). Create opportunities to “do good” 3). Nurture empathy 4). Teach friendship skills (assertive, respectful, & peaceful ways to deal with others) 5). Closely monitor your child’s TV viewing, video game playing, computer activities, & music 6). Engage in more constructive, entertaining, & energizing activities
Warning Signs your child is being bullied Abrupt lack of interest in school or refusal to go to school Takes an unusual route to school Grades drop Withdraws from family & school activities Hungry after school, saying he/she lost lunch money Taking parents’ money and making lame excuses to where it went Heads straight to the bathroom when gets home from school
Warning Signs Is sad, sullen, angry, or scared after receiving a phone call or email Does something out of character Uses derogatory or demeaning language when talking about peers Stops talking about peers and everyday activities Has physical injuries not consistent with explanation Has disheveled, torn, or missing clothing Has stomachaches, headaches, panic attacks, is unable to sleep, sleeps too much, is exhausted
Homework Have a conversation with your child about bullying. An information sheet containing the do’s & don’t’s of bullying, and some questions to ask your child is attached.
Resources and Bibliography Coloroso, B. (2002). The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander. Toronto: HarperCollins Publishers. Thompson, M. (2002). Mom, They’re Teasing Me; Helping your child solve social problems. New York: Ballantine Books. Thompson, M. (2001). Best Friends, Worst Enemies; Understanding the social lives of children. New York: Ballantine Books. Garbarino, J. & deLara, E. (2002). And Words Can Hurt Forever. New York: Free Press. Bonds, M. & Stoker, S. (2000). Bully Proofing Your School. Longmont, CO: Sopris West. Beane, A. (1999). Bully Free Classroom. Minneapolis, MN: Free Spirit Publishing. http://www.bullying.org/