Bullying in Schools: What EveryParent Should KnowColette DavisWith school approaching for many and for some already beginning, the concern for the2012/2013 school year is “will my child be bullied?” It’s a new decade, and bullying hasbeen in the forefront of the media because of the tragedies is has created. Amassachusetts teen Phoebe Prince committed suicide in 2010 after being bullied-herdeath was a result of a new era of bullies. Many times it can be difficult to control whatis happening to your child while they are in school. In fact they will most likely hide itfrom you.Plus bullying takes on several guises, which to the uniformed can easily be overlooked.Manipulative bullying happens with children who are coerced by another into doingthings that they would not usually do. In many cases children with special needs havebeen the victims here. Conditional friendship also happen, where a child believes thatthe bully is their friend. When that “friend” is not happy the child will become the victimbearing the brunt of the anger or maliciousness. Exploitive bullying another form ofbullying focuses on the child’s condition which is used to bully them either by otherclassmates or via technology and social media networks.When a parent suspects that their child might be the victim of a bully, it can be hard tounderstand how to address it. First if you think that there may be something wrong withyour child confront the issue. Do not walk on eggshells or ignore the obvious, insteadtalk with them. Sometimes the child will be not want to talk, they may be feeling like a“snitch” or weak because they are unhappy. Tattletales are not the popular kids on theplayground-instead they are picked on even worse. So your child may think thatbecause they are talking about the problems that they are having in school-they willautomatically become a snitch. Be open and honest, listen to them! Keep theconversation to a minimum level on your part talking and let the children talk.After you have heard it all, get the details. Ask more questions about how your childfeels. These children have the right to feel safe in a school environment and you shouldbe addressing this with your child. It’s important to validate their feelings. Many parentswill be upset that this has happened to their child, it is only natural. Others may beinclined to spout off angrily themselves. These actions are unwarranted, instead theyonly show your child that emotional anger or actions are the way to solve issues. Thesevery same emotions are the kind that your child is experiencing being the brunt of abullies attitudes. Instead cooly nod, accept the information and log it. This way whenyou address the teachers and school itself you will be able to let them know logicallywhat has happened.You as the parent are responsible to make sure that your children are comfortable, andit’s the job of the school to make sure that children are learning in the environment thatis provided to them. As a parent you can help to prevent bullying in schools by teachingyour children how to be strong and confident. Teach your children about the power ofkindness. Also instill in them the early warning signs that a person is a bully. Coachyour children that hitting, pushing and calling others names is not how we make friends.
Bullying is a serious problem and is common among children of all ages. PsychologistDorothea Ross Ph.D., author of Childhood Bullying and Teasing says “There’s anattitude that we all go through it or even that it toughens you up.” Most parents are stillagreeing with this model, given the recent response on a national survey that stated50% of parents believe that bullying is not a serious problem.Why are some children bullies while others are not? The bully is going to hurt someonewho is less powerful, they will use physical and emotional abuse to get it done. Childrenare not considered bullies until they are 4 or 5 though. Why? Before this age childrenare believed to simply not have the capacity for maliciousness in a directed way.There has been a lot of counteractive programming created recently to combat bullying.A program developed in Norway back in the 1980s seems to have a lot of promise in itsapplications to American schools. The principal behind it is to educate a culture ofcommunity. In other words, to bring back kindness, peer to peer contact and teachempathy in the schools and the home. Some schools like that of Gaston County in NorthCarolina are taking control of the bullying situation. They have instituted a campaigncalled Rachel’s Challenge, a nationally recognized program that was named afterRachel Scott, the first Columbine tragedy victim. The program focuses on empoweringstudents to combat bullying with a culture of caring and empathy. Staff are trained andschool activities are created to focus on this mission. It also builds partnerships withlocal organizations to help educate parents and locals about the role that a strongcommunity can have in preventing bullying.Children today are more at risk of being bullied because the focus of the Americancommunity has changed. In the past students were part of a deeply entrenchedcommunity where neighbors were aware of each other, knew each others children andkept an eye out for any issues. This culture of caring has been demolished and theseprograms are trying to bring it back. If we as a society become vested in ourcommunities again, perhaps tragedies like Columbine will be averted.