Is your child a target of bullying

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  • I hope schools take great actions in resolving so many bullying issues left unheard. I am a parent and I'm worried and I don't want that any kid to experience this. As a way of helping everyone especially the parents, who still find it quite hard to manage issues like this, I found this great application which featured a safety app which gets me connected to a Safety Network or escalate my call to the nearest 911 when needed, it has other cool features that are helpful for your kids with just a press of a Panic Button. Check it here: http://www.SafeKidZone.com/
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  • Is Your Child a Target of Bullying Behavior? Intervention Strategies for Parents of Children with Disabilities Notes for Presenter Parents can help their children with disabilities who are the targets of bullying by developing effective strategies for responding to bullying behavior. This workshop is designed to introduce parents and professionals to a range of intervention strategies for the child who is the target of bullying that can be used by the parent, the parent and child, and the family and school. It is intended as a general guideline, across all disabilities and age groups, for the development of a plan to address the unique needs of the individual child. • The workshop is a minimum of two hours. Presenters who incorporate examples and use the discussion tips should allow three hours. • The focus is on intervention strategies, however, some strategies could be considered prevention strategies. • The workshop content was developed in PowerPoint with “note” pages that contain proposed dialogue for the presenter and are illustrated by an accompanying visual slide for the audience. The slides can be shown electronically or on transparencies. • The note pages may also include “discussion tips,” which are open-ended questions that encourage audience participation, and “vignettes,” stories to illustrate the real-life experiences of bullying behavior. Presenters are encouraged to tailor the information to fit their style of presentation, their audience, and to accommodate the length of their presentation. • The term “parent” is used throughout the curriculum, and the presenter has the option of substituting caregiver, guardian, surrogate parent, foster parent, or another appropriate term.  • The material is written for a national audience. Presenters may want to develop further information that is state specific. For example, many state and national agencies use the legal term “harassment” to define bullying behavior toward another child. The term “bullying” was chosen for the curriculum as it is more popular with the media and is commonly referenced by the general public. • Children with disabilities may also be the bully or may be a responsive bully (someone who bullies others in response to being a target). For the purposes of this workshop, the focus is on the child who is the target and strategies to intervene against bullying behavior. i
  • Is Your Child a Target of Bullying? Intervention Strategies for Parents of Children with Disabilities Developed by: The National ALLIANCE for Parent Centers, Technical Assistance Center at PACER Center, Inc. 8161 Normandale Boulevard • Minneapolis, MN 55437 • 952-838-9000 888-248-0822 Toll-free • taalliance@taalliance.org • www.taalliance.org ALLIANCE Co-directors: Paula Goldberg • Sue Folger • Sharman Davis Barrett Written by: Julie Hertzog, with special thanks to the following for their thoughtful review of this curriculum; Barry Garfinkel, M.D. Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, Sharon Bishop of the Oklahoma Parent Center, Carolyn Anderson, Virginia Richardson, Vava Guthrie, Sean Roy, Lili Garfinkel, Beth-Ann Bloom, Lisa Perkins, Sommer Daniels and Patricia Bill. ©2003, PACER Center, Inc. All rights reserved. No portion of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without express written permission of PACER Center, except for brief quotations or critical reviews. Funding for the ALLIANCE Project comes from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (Cooperative Agreement No. H328R030014).This document was reviewed by the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) for consistency with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Amendments of 1997. The content of this document, and the contents of the documents cited herein do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the U.S. Department of Education, nor does mention of other organizations imply endorsement by those organizations or the U.S. Government. 1
  • The Need for Intervention   The threat of bullies keeps thousands of children home from school. A staggering 160,000 students miss school each day because of bullying ( The National Association of School Psychologists and the U.S. Department of Justice). Children’s access to education can be blocked by behavior traditionally accepted by our society as a rite of growing up. Students who are bullied may grow angry, resentful, frightened, or apathetic about school. Bullying is a serious issue that affects nearly every school in our nation. It is a behavior that knows no boundaries of class, race, gender, size of school, or age. Bullies tend to target children who are considered “different.” It may be their appearance, the way they communicate, or the manner in which they behave. When the child who is targeted is also emotionally vulnerable, self-conscious about differences, socially isolated, or unprepared to respond in an effective manner, he or she is at a greater risk for continued bullying behavior that may intensify over time in frequency, duration, and severity. Statistics on how many children are targets of bullying vary greatly ranging from a reported 7 to 15 percent, to as high as 77 percent. Although there is not a great deal of statistical research on the number of children with disabilities that are bullied, studies do indicate that two of the primary characteristics of becoming a target of bullying behavior are a child’s vulnerable reaction to the behavior and social isolation (i.e. not having friends, not being a member of a peer group). Both can be characteristics of many children with disabilities.   Discussion Tip: Are you the parent of a child with a disability? Do you know or believe your child is or has been bullied?  Discussion Tip: Why is there a need to intervene against bullying behavior? 2
  • The Impact of Bullying Many parents have directly experienced that a child with a disability often already faces obstacles in accessing educational opportunities. Bullying can intensify those challenges, as the fear of being bullied at school can greatly diminish a child’s ability to learn. Without intervention, children with disabilities who are the target of bullying may be deprived of their legal right to participate in or receive benefits, services, or opportunities of the educational program or activity, or their right to a free, appropriate public education. They are also at risk of short and long-term effects such as school avoidance, low self-esteem, increased fear or anxiety, depression, lower grades, and increased violence in the school. The social implications of bullying behavior are only beginning to be recognized and have been brought to the forefront by the r ecent tragedies in Columbine and San Diego. Those events were contributed in part to bullying as the gunmen had a history of being bullied by fellow students. During the Columbine shooting, students heard the gunmen say, “This is for all of those who made fun of us . . .” Quoted in “Bully Prevention and Solutions” Jan. 2002—Oklahoma Parents Center, Inc.  “ Bullying occurs throughout our schools every day and without intervention, bullying can lead to serious academic, social, emotional and legal problems” ( American Medical Association’s Council on Scientific Affairs, 2002) . A major cause of stress at school for children is the fear of being bullied or taunted. Kids who are bullied are two to three times more likely to have headaches or other illnesses ( ABC News, Sept. 22, 1996 / www.bullybeware.com). “Victims often fear school and consider school to be an unsafe and unhappy place” ( Eric Digest: Bullying in Schools, Banks, March 1997, riceece.org/pubs/digests/1997/banks97). Dan Olweus, a noted international bullying expert, has noted that bullying affects not only those who are bullied, but that those who witness the behavior also report feeling less safe and less satisfied with school. 3
  • Defining Bullying Behavior   “ Bullying among children is commonly defined as intentional, repeated, hurtful acts, words or other behavior, such as name-calling, threatening and/or shunning committed by one or more children against another.” ( U.S. Dept. of Education—Preventing Bullying: A Manual for Schools and Communities).   In order to develop intervention strategies, bullying behavior first needs to be defined. Parents need to be able to know it when they see it. One or more of these characteristics needs to be present in order to distinguish the behavior as bullying: 1. Intentional behavior toward the target . The target does not knowingly provoke the bully and the target may have made it clear he or she resents the behavior. 2. Often repetitive. Actions are generally carried out repeatedly over time but could also be a single incident. 3. Hurtful acts, words, or other behavior . An oppressive or negative act carried out against another with an intent to hurt or harm. 4. Committed by one or more persons against another . Bullying can be the act of a single person or can also be done by groups. 5. Presence of real or perceived “imbalance of power.” A child without power cannot bully. Power can be defined as either physical strength, social status, or a higher sense of self-esteem. ( U.S. Dept. of Education—Preventing Bullying: A Manual for Schools and Communities).   Discussion Tip: Is the act of two boys fighting on the playground considered bullying? (Not necessarily. If the two boys are of equal physical prowess and social stature, then it is two children who have a conflict. In defining bullying behavior, there must be an imbalance of power—with the bully having the power.) Discussion Tip: Why do children who bully need “power” for their behavior to be considered bullying?   4
  • Defining Disability “Harassment” A letter from the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services ( OSERS) was sent to school districts nationwide. The letter states that, “When harassing conduct is sufficiently severe, persistent or pervasive so that it creates a hostile environment, it can violate a student’s rights under Section 504 and Title II regulations.” The agencies conclude that “A hostile environment may exist even if there are no tangible effects on the student where the harassment is serious enough to adversely affect the student’s ability to participate in or benefit from the educational program.” OCR and OSERS provide the following examples of disability harassment that could create a hostile environment: • Several students continually remark out loud to other students during class that a student with dyslexia is “retarded” or “deaf and dumb” and does not belong in the class. As a result, the harassed student has difficulty doing work in class and her grades decline. • A student repeatedly places classroom furniture or other objects in the path of classmates who use wheelchairs, impeding the classmates’ ability to enter the classroom. • Students continually taunt or belittle a student with mental retardation by mocking and intimidating him so he does not participate in class. Excerpt from “Dear Colleague” letter from U.S. Department of Education (2000) www.ed.gov/offices/OCR/docs/disabharassltr.html Vignette: Lindsey, a 14-year-old, with brittle-bone disease returned to middle school in a wheelchair after breaking her ankle. Fellow students passing by in the hallway would suddenly push her brakes on, jerking the chair to a halt and knowingly causing Lindsey intense pain. Lindsey cried at home every night about the harassment. She refused to identify her attackers to the principal because she believed her tormentors were so mean, they would only hurt her more if she told about the bullying. Discussion Tip: What are some examples of situations in which a child with a disability might become a target of bullying? Ask if a participant is willing to share a story about bullying behavior that is related to a specific disability. 5
  • Common Views About Bullying   In spite of the significant impact that bullying can have on a target, it often continues to be viewed as acceptable behavior. There are many misperceptions that adults may have about bullying, all of which can lead to minimizing the behavior. A few of them include: • Boys will be boys . The implication is that bullying is okay—it is natural for boys to be physically or verbally aggressive. However, research indicates aggression is learned behavior, not a natural response. • Girls don’t bully . Research shows that girls can and do bully. While they do not physically bully targets as often as boys, they will often use verbal and social bullying. Bullying for girls escalates during the middle school years. • Words will never hurt you . Studies have shown even though words don’t leave bruises or broken bones, they may leave deep emotional scars that can have lifelong implications. Children learn at a very early age that words can hurt other children. • Bullying is a natural part of childhood . There is nothing natural about being bullied. Bullying is often considered a normal part of childhood because it is such a common experience. Physical or emotional aggression toward others should not be tolerated as a consequence of childhood. • Some people deserve to be bullied . No child’s behavior merits being hurt or harmed in any manner. Instead a child who is different from others deserves to be treated with respect and consideration. • Bullying will make kids tougher . Bullying does not make someone tougher. Research has shown it often has the opposite effect—lowering a child’s sense of self-esteem and self-worth. Bullying often creates fear and increases anxiety for a child. • Telling a teacher about bullying is tattling . Children need to know the difference between tattling and telling. The secrecy of bullying only serves to protect the bully and to perpetuate the behavior. • It was only teasing . Most children are occasionally teased; teasing in which the parties are not hurt is not considered bullying. Teasing is bullying when a child with a disability does not understand they are being teased and the intent of the action is to hurt or harm. Adapted from “The Bully-Free Classroom: Over 100 Tips and Strategies for Teachers K-8” by Allan L. Beane, Ph.D. ©1999. Used with permission from Free Spirit Publishing Inc., Minneapolis, MN; 1-866-703-7322; www.freespirit.com. All rights reserved. Discussion Tip: What are other common views about bullying behavior? 6
  • Children Who Bully Discussion Tip: How would a child describe the “typical bully?” Traditionally, children who bully were perceived as someone large in stature. In reality, a bully is defined by his or her behavior . Bullies can be any size, race, religion, or gender; they can be popular or rejected by “in” groups or social circles. There are many reasons why children bully. The most predominant is the child’s inability to channel his or her anger or frustration in an appropriate manner. Children who bully seek to demonstrate power . They can be aggressive, physically stronger, remorseless, and intentional in wanting to harm others. They may also thrive on control and dominance and often can not distinguish between fear and respect. Children who bully frequently have an inaccurate sense of self-worth. They might have a large circle of friends. This social status is sometimes reached by forcing children to befriend them out of fear. The “friends” of the bully fear becoming targets themselves. (list adapted from www.bullybeware.com ) Research shows that: Bullying can begin as early as preschool, increasing in elementary, peaking in middle school, and then decreasing in high school. In elementary school, boys are more involved than girls in bullying. This gender difference decreases in middle/high school as social bullying among girls increases. Boys generally bully both boys and girls, while girls usually bully other girls. Bullying behavior in elementary school is more likely to include physical aggression, while middle/high school bullying is more characterized by teasing and social exclusion. Boys tend to use physical means to bully, while girls tend to use teasing and social exclusion. Discussion Tip: Why does bullying decrease in high school? (Reasons may include: Social connections have been established, the struggle for power decreases, and social maturity increases. Peers have developed a heightened sense of morality and are willing to defend those oppressed by others.) Discussion Tip: What may be the reasons girls use teasing and social exclusion to bully? 7
  • Children Who Are Targets The words we use to describe bullying are very important and powerful. Children who are bullied are often referred to as “victims.” This term implies that the child is powerless to change his or her situation or that he or she is somehow responsible for the actions of another. However, children who are bullied are really “targets”—and they do have power (with help from parents and school staff) to change what is happening to them. No matter what term is used, however, a victim or a target is not responsible for the actions of the bully against him or her. By using the word “target” instead of “victim,” we may change how adults or others not involved in the bullying perceive the situation. A victim is seen as acted upon, hurt, wounded, or picked on at random. The child may feel, “I am a victim. It’s hopeless. I’m powerless. I am weak.” However, using the word “target” may change the thinking to: “I was hurt—the bully made target-practice out of me! But I have choices and options. I can take back some power.” By using the word “target,” a witness will see the child as picked on intentionally —someone made a decision to hurt him, and I will help make plans to keep it from happening again. Children with disabilities who are targeted can learn strategies to help take power back from the bullies. They may learn a different way to respond or react. They may learn to ignore or to give a witty response. We will talk more about these strategies a little later. The following are common characteristics of children who are targeted by bullies: Display vulnerable behaviors. These are the children who lack an appropriate response to the bully’s behavior or become visibly frightened. This type of reaction perpetuates the bullying as it provides the bully with a desired outcome. Have few or no close friends (peers) and are often socially isolated. Children with even a single peer are less likely to become a target of bullying. Peers are more likely to help one another in times of need. Bullies recognize the vulnerability of an isolated child. Often less assertive children , may seem weak or easily dominated. Lower self-esteem and confidence. Children with low self-esteem often feel they deserve the abuse. Discussion Tip: How could the outcome be different when labeling a child a “victim” versus a “target”? 8
  • Types of Bullying — Physical Bullying behavior can be broken down into four types: physical, verbal, emotional, and sexual. Physical bullying will be addressed first, followed by a discussion on the other types. Sometimes physical bullying can be the easiest type of bullying to recognize as it is the most visible. However, because the majority of this behavior occurs outside the view of adults, the act of physical bullying can be difficult to detect. Physical bullying includes hitting, kicking, pushing, taking or damaging property, and forced or unwelcome contact. It also includes the perceived intent to harm, which can include instances of “pretending” to physically harm the target (i.e. flinching—flicking fingers or extending hands close to the target’s eyes or face causing a withdrawal reaction). It can also include spitting, pulling hair, and throwing objects. Physical bullying episodes can be brief in duration, but they have consequences that extend beyond the immediate hurt or harm, because the target may now feel unsafe at school. Physical bullying can begin in children as young as four to five years old. This behavior is not considered bullying until the child realizes his or her actions cause another pain. Physical behavior is more often perpetrated by boys against boys, but girls can also be subjected to biting, hitting, and kicking on the playground, in school, and on the way home from school. Vignette: Jacob, a fourth-grader with ADHD, sits in a desk toward the back of the classroom. Samuel, who sits directly behind him, likes to methodically kick the back of Jacob’s chair when he thinks the teacher is not looking. Sam knows this often distracts Jacob. On several occasions Jacob has asked Samuel to stop kicking his chair because he gets easily distracted. Samuel ignores his request and continues the behavior. Samuel’s continual kicking causes Jacob to lose concentration, and he can no longer focus on what is being taught in the classroom. Discussion Tip: What are some other specific types of physical bullying? 9
  • Types of Bullying — Verbal Verbal bullying is the most common type and the easiest type of bullying to inflict on other children. It is quick and direct (adapted www.bullybeware.com). It includes teasing, name calling, threats against the target, intimidation, demeaning jokes about another’s differences, spreading rumors, gossiping, and slander. Children at a very early age learn how to verbally bully other children. It begins with unsophisticated name calling, usually using words that are forbidden or unacceptable to adults. As the children mature, they begin to understand how much words can be used to hurt another. Boys generally like to name call and use threats, while girls use slander and gossip to gain social power. Generally, verbal bullying peaks in middle school and begins to decrease as children become more socially conscious and accept the differences of others. With respect to teasing, it is important to distinguish the difference between good-natured fun and bullying. For example, a target of playful teasing reacts with a smile or a laugh, and both parties are building social contact and awareness. The parties are engaged in mutual interaction and have equal power. The target of hurtful teasing (i.e., bullying) can become hurt, angry, or sad. The difference between the acts is in the intent of the child initiating the behavior and the reaction of the target. While some teasing may appear good-natured or benign to the witness, it is in fact hurting the target. The child initiating the action may be familiar with the methods that “push the buttons” of the target. Discussion Tip: Is all teasing bullying? (No. Most children are occasionally teased; teasing in which the parties are not hurt is not considered bullying. Teasing is bullying when a child with a disability does not understand they are being teased and the intent of the action is to hurt or harm.) Vignette: Sarah, a third-grader who speaks with a stutter, just moved with her family to a new school district. Last year, she attended school where she had friends and was well accepted. She was excited to start school and was looking forward to meeting all her classmates. The first day of school Sarah came home in tears and told her parents that when the teacher asked everyone to say their names, she said, “S-S-S-S-S-a-r-a-h,” and the kids all started to laugh. Later, during recess, she was on the playground, and everyone was saying, “S-S-S-S-S-a-r-a-h is S-S-S-T-T-T-T-u-p-i-d.” She was humiliated and did not want to return to school. Discussion Tip: What are some other examples of verbal bullying? 10
  • Types of Bullying — Emotional (Social) Emotional (social) bullying is the most sophisticated of all bullying as it is generally very calculated and is often done in groups. It can be the most difficult type of bullying for children to define as bullying because they may often feel as if they did something to deserve it, or they do not understand why it is happening to them. Types of social bullying include: Alienation or exclusion from groups. Acceptance into groups is often determined by social hierarchy and social norms. Children with disabilities often want to be a part of a group and work hard at “trying to fit in” and to not be judged as “different” by their peers. Manipulation done to prevent acceptance into groups. Includes gossiping or making defamatory comments about another child. Damage to reputation. Includes telling negative stories about another person in order to inflate one’s own self-esteem. Public humiliation. Making fun of the appearance or behavior of another child. Creating a sense of unease for the target. Making the target feel vulnerable and unsafe. “ Flaming.” Posting slander on the internet. Emotional abuse peaks in middle school as children are experimenting with social boundaries and learning about the power of inclusion and exclusion. Much of the behavior is part of learning about social norms and standards and finding out where one fits in the social heirarchy. The behavior becomes bullying when the intent is to cause another pain and to assert social dominance. Vignette: Maria, a young girl with spina bifida, was a life-long friend and neighbor of Anna. The two girls had been inseparable. When the girls began seventh grade, Anna attended tryouts for the football cheerleading squad. She was one of six selected and was very excited to be a part of the team. Anna asked Maria to watch the first open practice and afterward they planned to eat at Anna’s house. The next day, the head cheerleader, Kaitlin, approached Anna in the hallway and said she did not want people with disabilities, like Maria, at practice. Kaitlin told Anna if she wanted to be a part of the group, she had better not invite Maria again. Discussion Tip: What are some other examples of social bullying? 11
  • Types of Bullying — Sexual Understandably, this may be the most difficult type of bullying for a child to discuss and also be difficult for a parent to hear. Children need to know acceptable boundaries (i.e.—Is it okay to touch a girl’s shoulder when you are talking with her?) and appropriate behavior in social relationships (i.e.—Is it okay talk with an older boy?). Some examples of sexual bullying include: Sexually charged comments Inappropriate or lewd glances Inappropriate physical contact Exhibitionism Sexual assault Children need to be provided with the appropriate social rules and norms for dating and flirting so they can act with respect toward their peers and recognize when someone is not respecting them sexually. For a guideline on acceptable behavior within the school, parents can consult their child’s student handbook for the school’s written policy. Vignette: Josie, an attractive 15-year old girl with hearing loss, has many boys who admire her and talk about how much they would like to ask her on a date. Robert overhears others talking about Josie, and the next time Robert sees her in the hallway, he makes a sexually-charged comment about Josie to his friends, knowing that she can not hear him. Josie is unaware of Robert’s behavior, but she sees his friends looking at her and laughing. Robert continues to do this every time he sees Josie in the hallway. Finally, one of the boys tells Josie what is happening, and she feels humiliated and angry. Discussion Tip: What are some of the ways children with disabilities might have difficulty recognizing bullying behavior that is sexual in nature? Discussion Tip : What are some methods to teach children with disabilities about appropriate social norms for sexuality? 12
  • Planning Ahead Your child may not be the target of bullying right now, but research indicates that as your child grows older the dynamics of bullying can change. In the future their potential for becoming a target may increase. It is important to recognize a child’s potential as a target and develop a plan to provide a child with disabilities the skills and strategies to avoid bullying behavior. Starting when your child is young, consider these effective “plan-ahead” strategies: • Begin now to teach your child self-advocacy skills. Teach independent problem-solving methods. Help your child understand their disability and ways to communicate with others this understanding with their peers. • Encourage peer relationships. Reducing isolation and having the access to learn social skills are important steps in reducing vulnerability to bullying behavior. • Use the child’s Individual Educational Program (IEP) to develop goals and objectives to prevent becoming a target. (This is addressed in greater detail later in the workshop). • Watch for gaps in social skills or knowledge of social norms. As a parent, create a framework for guiding your child’s social development and well-being. The strategies in this workshop are primarily for intervention against bullying, but can also be tailored for prevention and can be used effectively to reduce the potential of becoming a target.   13
  • Recognizing a Child May Be a Target Now we have • defined what bullying is, • looked at characteristics of the children who bully and the children who are the targets, and • named the different types of bullying So, how can a parent know if their child is the target of bullying? Some children are able to talk with their parents about personal matters and may be willing to talk about bullying. But sometimes children may be reluctant to talk about bullying to anyone as they might fear if they do that the bullying may become worse or that nothing will change. Parents of children who are not willing to communicate about being bullied or whose children do not have the skills to effectively communicate need to watch for changes in their child’s behavior (i.e.—the usually happy child who loves getting on the bus each morning, suddenly demands that his or her parents give him or her a ride to school). These changes may indicate a child is being bullied. Other indicators might include: the child wants to stay home from school, unexplained stomachaches or headaches, the child withdraws, unexplainable bruises, ripped clothing, change in sleep routine, or change in temperament. Does my child know if he or she is being bullied? Many children will be able to easily identify the behavior of another as bullying, but for some children with disabilities, it may be difficult for them to determine or understand that they are a target. If the child confides that someone at school has been making them feel badly—the parent can help define it as bullying by asking his or her child questions (see next slide) or variations of the questions depending on the child’s age and ability. A child needs information about the difference between friendly behavior and bullying behavior. The basic rule is— let the child know if the behavior hurts or harms them either emotionally or physically, it’s bullying. Vignette: Joe, a third-grade boy with Down syndrome, has limited verbal skills. The word he expresses most often is “Mama.” Joe is unable to pronounce his teacher’s name and generally uses sign language to ask for her. When he is excited he calls out “Mama” to get his teacher’s attention. The first time it happened the kids laughed good naturedly with Joe. The next time he said “Mama,” one of the boys laughed and encouraged Joe to say it again, which Joe did several times. The next day the boy encouraged Joe to say “Mama” again, and the children near Joe all laughed. Is this bullying? Discussion Tip: What are some of issues for a child with a disability in being able to recognize bullying behavior? What are some of issues for a child with a disability in being able to communicate that they are the target of bullying? 14
  • Talk With Your Child About Bullying Parents can prepare themselves to talk with their children by considering how they are going to handle their child’s questions and emotions. They can also decide what information they would like to give their child about bullying. Parents should be ready to: • Listen. It is the child’s story; let him or her tell it. They may be in emotional pain about the way they are being treated. • Believe. The knowledge that a child is being bullied can be shocking. To be an effective advocate parents need to react in a way that encourages the child to trust. • Be supportive . Tell the child it is not his fault and that he does not deserve to be bullied. Parents need to empower their child by telling him how terrific he is. Parents need to avoid judgmental comments about their child or the child who bullies. Their child may already be feeling isolated and hearing negative statements from parents may only further isolate him. • Be patient . Children may not be ready to open up right away. Talking about the bullying may be difficult as they may fear retaliation from the bully or think that even if they tell an adult that nothing will change. The child might be feeling insecure, withdrawn, frightened, or ashamed. • Provide information. Parents should educate their child about bullying by providing information at a level that the child can understand. • Explore options for intervention strategies. Parents can discuss with their child options they may have in dealing with bullying behavior. (The strategies follow this slide). Vignette: Billy, a 9-year-old with a learning disability, came home from school and seemed unusually quiet. Billy’s dad, Allan, asked him “How was your day?” Billy started to cry and told his dad that another boy pushed him when they were playing in the tunnel on the playground. His dad asked Billy to tell him more about it. He listened to Billy’s story. Allan told his son that it was not his fault that someone pushed him and that it is okay to talk about it. Then Billy and his dad talked about what they should do next. Together they decided Billy would stay away from the tunnel when that boy is playing in there. Allan asked Billy to tell him if the pushing happens again, and at that time they would talk with the teacher. Discussion Tip: What information could a parent provide their child about bullying? 15
  • Questions to Ask Your Child Parents can help their child recognize bullying behavior by asking them questions about their situation. The following questions may be helpful: Did the child hurt you on purpose? Was it done more than once? Did it make you feel bad or angry? or How do you feel about the behavior? Did the child know you were being hurt? Is the other child more powerful (i.e. bigger, scarier) than you in some way? (Adapted from “Your Child: Bully or Victim? Understanding and Ending Schoolyard Tyranny ” Peter Sheras, Ph.D., 2002) Variations of these questions for the child who is reluctant to talk about the situation may include: How was the bus ride today? Who did you sit by at lunch? I notice that you seem to be feeling sick a lot and wanting to stay home: please tell me about that. Are kids making fun of you? Are there a lot of cliques at school? What do you think about them? Has anyone touched you in a way that didn’t feel right? Other options for helping your child discuss bullying include: • reading stories with the child about bullying situations • talking about recent events in the news • discussing bullying incidents on TV or in a movie Discussion Tip: What are other options to help your child recognize bullying behavior? 16
  • Recognize Your Reaction When parents discover their child is being bullied, they may feel a variety of emotions. These reactions and emotional responses are natural for parents who want their child to feel valued, protected, and loved. Reactions of parents may include: • I feel terrible that I didn’t know . Disbelief that someone would harm their child. • I don’t understand why this is happening to my child. Is he or she ok? Fear for their child’s safety and sadness in not having protected their child. • I wish I had done something sooner. Bewilderment and guilt at why they or someone else had not recognized the behavior earlier and done something to prevent or stop it. • I am so angry. Anger against the person who is bullying their child, his or her parents, and the school. • I feel so helpless. Feeling like a victim because their child has been bullied; powerless to help themselves or their child. In order to become an effective advocate for their child, it is important for parents to recognize and acknowledge their reaction, but then to focus on the issue, not the emotion—to move from “Why did this happen to my child?” to an action plan. The parents’ approach, attitude, and responses will impact their child and those with whom they work to intervene against the bullying behavior. Discussion Tip : What are methods for parents to use to address their reactions? Presenter Note: Decide at this point if the group should explore their feelings in the workshop setting or develop a plan of action to address their emotions through other methods. 17
  • Deciding Appropriate Strategies Intervention strategies for a child who is the target of bullying are dependent on not giving the bully the desired response of causing hurt or harm, mentally or physically. Strategies that involve direct interaction between a bully and the child should, when possible, be avoided in situations in which the bullying is very intense, relentless, or the child feels physically threatened. In talking with their child about options for reacting to bullying, parents need to decide if the intervention is appropriate for: • The situation. What is the nature of the teasing? Will the child be safe in carrying out the intervention? How long has the teasing been going on? • The age of the child. Is the intervention appropriate for the age of the child? • The child’s ability and comfort level. Does the child have the skills and ability to carry out the strategy? • The supports available for the child . Does the child have the formal (school personnel) and informal (peers/friends) to help with the strategies? When a child is a target of bullying behavior he or she needs to have methods to react to the bullying situation. The reactions fall under two categories: “indirect” and “direct,” which are addressed on the following slides. Discussion Tip: What are other factors in deciding the best method for reacting to bullying? 18
  • Reactions to Bullying—Indirect Indirect reactions offer strategies for the target that involve the option of not directly responding to the bully. The child may ultimately avoid the situation or not provide the bully with opportunity to initiate or continue the behavior. Strategies a child can use to avoid bullying situations or prevent it from continuing: • Disregard the bully. Try not to give the bully an emotional response; try not to cry, become angry, act scared, etc. “Let the child know teasing (bullying) cannot be prevented, and children cannot control what others say; however, they can learn to control their own reactions.” (Freedman, Judy S., “Easing the Teasing: How Parents Can Help Their Children,” www.parentclicks.com) • Use self-talk. Practice with the child methods to think through the situation. Instill the importance of acknowledging that just because someone says words about you or unfairly does something to you, that you still have choices. “I do not have to believe what they say. They do not have the right to hurt me.” • Practice role playing and problem solving. Work with the child to develop established responses to situations; then practice the response until the child is easily able to do it on his or her own. • Move away from the bully and/or the situation. As soon as a child recognizes the potential for bullying, he or she should move away from the situation. Help the child decide where to go. • Stay away from areas or situations where the bullying occurs. When a child knows that bullying occurs in certain places (i.e., in a tunnel on the playground, a deserted hallway, etc.), they should develop a plan that enables them to avoid those places. The child should always stay in the view of an adult. Stay with another child, friend, peer, or sibling. Research shows bullies are more likely to target children when they are alone. Discussion Tip: What are other indirect reactions to bullying? Discussion Tip: What are some physical areas in a school or school situation that are potentially unsafe? 19
  • Reactions to Bullying—Direct Direct reactions offer strategies for situations in which the target chooses to directly respond to a bullying situation, to ultimately stop the immediate bullying and/or to prevent it from happening again. The goal is to take away the bully’s power to harm. Strategies a child can use to respond directly to a bullying situation or prevent bullying, all of which involve giving the bully an unexpected response: • Educate the bully. Provide the bully with information. Tell the bully a brief statement about your disability or difference. For example, when a child with a learning disability is called stupid, they can respond by telling the bully, “I have difficulty reading, but I am working hard to improve.” This is best done one-to-one, not in a group situation. Agree with the bully. Tell the bully, they are absolutely correct, and you agree with everything they are saying. For example, when a child with a limp is teased, they can tell the bully “Yes, I do walk with a limp, you are right in noticing that.” Seek the help of an adult. Locate the nearest adult, attract their attention; let the adult know you need assistance. Do something the bully doesn’t anticipate. Yell out so that another child or adult looks your way or keep a whistle with you and blow it loudly. Ask the bully to stop. Let the bully know that you want them to stop, tell them they should not bully you. This is most effective when there are other children near you. It is generally not a good idea to respond physically (i.e., fight back) as this only perpetuates the behavior and can lead to other issues such as suspension or increased physical violence. Calling the parent of the bully should be discouraged. The better recourse is to work with school administrators to address the issue of consequences for bullying behavior and to encourage school-wide awareness that bullying will not be tolerated. Vignette: Ryan, a 9-year-old with a visual impairment, wears very thick rimmed glasses and is small for his age. Ryan is used to other children commenting about his appearance—everything from “four eyes” to “shrimp” to “sissy.” His mother taught him that when children call him names, they do it because his glasses make him unique and the other children don’t know how to react. Ryan’s mom told him that when he is teased, he has options: to educate the child (talk with them about what it is like to wear glasses), to ignore them (walk away), to make a joke (four eyes help me see better than two), or to agree with them (yes, I am wearing glasses because they help me see). His mother has given him tools to respond to the teasing. The bully is not rewarded by his or her desired response and therefore ceases the teasing. Discussion Tip: What are other direct reactions to bullying? 20
  • Encourage Group Involvement for the Child Studies show that children who interact with their peers are less likely to be bullied. Having even a single person to interact with can prevent the social isolation that can lead to an increased chance of being a target of bullying. When children interact with one another, they often become more invested in what happens to one another. Children who are familiar with one another on a personal basis are more likely to provide support, empathy, and protection for one another. Examples of adult-monitored activities to help a child increase peer interaction and to make them feel more capable: • Enroll in structured activities such as a non-competitive swimming club, dance class, or scouting. • Join an after-school program or activity such as a karate or an arts-and-crafts camp. • Participate on committees or in a group such as the prom committee or the homecoming fund- raising committee. • Develop a hobby that allows direct interaction with peers such as dance or theater. It is important for parents to also educate their children about social norms. Children who understand social norms are less likely to be socially isolated and are better equipped to respond in a manner that does not provide the bully with the desired effect. “A child’s social intelligence and level of self-esteem are the real determinants when it comes to whether or not they will be victimized.” (“Your Child: Bully or Victim? Understanding and Ending Schoolyard Tyranny” Peter Sheras, Ph.D.) Vignette: Johnny, a 15-year-old with a learning disability, was subjected to a great deal of teasing during middle school. Many of his peers openly called him “stupid” and other names. At the start of the school year, Johnny’s special education teacher encouraged him to join the technology committee for the school’s theater. Johnny demonstrated great talent in using the sound and lighting systems. His skill and technical aptitude were recognized by his peers in the theater. When the lead actor in the play overheard another student call Johnny “a dummy” he walked by and said “hey, he’s ok, leave him alone.” Discussion Tip: What are some of the challenges in talking to a child with a disability about social norms? What are some of the options available for parents to teach social norms to a child with a disability? 21
  • Seek the Help of Professionals Professionals can be useful in providing support, advice, and information to parents and their child in addressing bullying. Professional organizations and services can be found in the yellow pages, networking with other families, searching the Internet, or by contacting your local parent organization. Visit www.taalliance.org or call toll-free (888)248.0822 for information about parent organizations in your state. Options for working with professionals outside of the school system may include: • Talk with a counselor or therapist. Counseling could be beneficial for the target and the parent as they may be dealing with conflicting emotions about the bullying. Some schools offer in-school counseling. Consult with violence prevention organizations. Violence prevention organizations specialize in preventing abuse in schools and may be able to provide valuable information on how to protect a child. Learn more about community support groups. Children who are bullied can benefit a great deal from talking with peers who share similar experiences. Group discussion can help a child understand his or her situation is not unique and also provide opportunities for problem solving and forming social relationships. Some domestic abuse organizations offer support groups for children who are targets of abusive behavior. Seek the advice of organizations that specialize in the child’s disability. Organizations specializing in the child’s disability may be more familiar with the characteristics and circumstances unique to the child’s disability and might offer specific interventions tailored to the child’s disability. Discussion Tip : What are other options for working with professionals to intervene against bullying behavior? 22
  • Be Involved at School When a child is at school, his or her safety is the responsibility of school personnel. Parents can encourage school personnel to protect children from bullying behavior. Options for parental involvement in the school could include: • Talk with your child’s teacher. The teacher needs to know you are concerned about your child’s safety and welfare. Discuss options for the teacher’s involvement, and how he or she can help with your child’s plan to respond and react to bullying behavior. • Talk with school administrators. Encourage school personnel to adopt a bully awareness and bully reduction program. • A sk to speak to the class about the child’s disability. Awareness can alleviate some of the misconceptions students may have about a peer with a disability and lead to greater understanding and empathy. • Be a part of your child’s school; volunteer or visit. Take an active role in your child’s school. Let students, teachers, and other parents know who you are. Those familiar with your child and family are more invested in making sure their peer is included and protected. Your child needs to know you are interested in what happens at school. Volunteer for bullying awareness events, act as parent mentor, or offer to monitor the playground or hallways. Volunteer to read an age-appropriate book to the class that addresses the issues of bullying. • Join the local parent teacher organization. Raise the level of bullying awareness. Become the “bullying expert” of the group by researching information about current issues and trends with bully prevention programs. • Offer to speak before the school board. Discuss the issues and concerns surrounding bullying in the school. Vignette: Andre, the parent of a child with a disability, has concerns about the teasing his son was subjected to on the playground. Andre first contacted his son’s teacher who expressed concern over the incidents but was unable to help as she did not monitor the playground. Andre decided to contact the principal, who said, “I’ll look into it.” After a week, Andre had not heard back. He attended the next school board meeting during which he voiced his concerns about the bullying on the playground. The school board agreed to form a subcommittee to research the issue. 23
  • Connect with Role Models Parents can be proactive and seek out adults who model positive behavior toward children with disabilities, who will not tolerate bullying behavior, and are accepting of the differences of others. When adults act with respect, compassion, and kindness toward a child who is viewed as “different” they are modeling appropriate behavior. Children may follow the lead of these adults and in turn, treat their peers with respect and tolerance. Adult role models may be the educators at the child’s school or the parents of the child’s peers. Adults can educate and empower children to act against bullying behavior by: Defining the difference between telling and tattling Providing assurance that there will not be retaliation for their actions Letting them know that adults do not accept bullying behavior Children who are empowered by adults to intervene against bullying behavior can be powerful allies for children who are targets. Research shows that when witnesses of bullying act either individually or as a group to express their displeasure of bullying, the bully is less likely to continue the behavior. Many children do not like to see bullying, but hesitate to intervene against the behavior. They may think they will become the next target of the bully or that adults view bullying as okay. “You can outnumber the bullies if you teach the silent majority to stand up.” Adapted from the concept of Creating a Caring Community from “Bully Proofing Your School” by Carla Garrity. Used with permission from Sopris West Educational Services. Vignette: Bill Mosher is the varsity football coach and is well respected in the community. He is known for being tough and hard-nosed but fair to his team. What most people do not know is that Bill has a grandson with mental health issues. Alex, a 16-year-old with a developmental disability, has signed up for the football team and Alex’s mother, Judy, has concerns about how the other players will react to him. Judy approaches Bill before the first day of practice to talk about Alex. During their conversation, Judy asks Bill how he will handle any mistreatment of Alex by the other players. Bill candidly tells her that he expects his team to be respectful of one another and that on the first day of practice, he will make it clear that if another player makes a derogatory remark, he will be verbally reprimanded and if he does it again, he will be suspended from the team. 24
  • Programs to Promote Change in the School Parents have the power to influence change within the school and can work together with educators to guarantee a schoolwide effort to create and support a culture in which bullying will not be tolerated. Parents can advocate for a schoolwide program to promote bullying awareness, which could include the following options: • Initiate a schoolwide assembly to introduce and discuss bullying issues. Invite speakers to educate the student body about bullying behavior and how to intervene if they witness bullying behavior or how to react if they are a target. • Promote disability awareness. Create an atmosphere in the school that is accepting of the differences of others. • Encourage peer interaction. Promote peer relationships. Bullies are less likely to target students who are with another student. Options include developing a buddy system in which class members are assigned a buddy for the week and they share in class activities or create a mentor program in which a child from an upper grade mentors a child from a lower grade. • Provide Safe Zones. Create areas that are heavily monitored by adults trained on how to recognize all types of bullying behavior and methods for safe, effective intervention. These areas could include places that are heavy traffic areas or those not normally monitored by adults such as segments of the playground, the elevator, a designated bathroom, or an area of the lunchroom. • Develop conflict resolution programs. Students need to be educated about methods of how to resolve their differences with others. Educators should use caution in using peer mediation as it may not be effective due the power imbalance between target and bully. • Develop a Class Contract. Work with the students to establish their own set of rules about how to behave in the classroom, on the playground, in the hallway, etc. The contract should also include consequences if the rules are not followed. Discussion Tip: What are appropriate rules and consequences for behavior in the classroom? Discussion Tip: What is an example of a successful school-wide bullying prevention program ? 25
  • Use the Child’s IEP Children with disabilities who are eligible for special education under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) will have an IEP (Individualized Education Program). The IEP team can work together to develop goals, benchmarks or short-term objectives, and identify supplementary aids and services or program modifications or supports to help prevent and intervene against bullying. Include the child in the decision-making, as this can improve the likelihood of the child meeting his or her IEP goals. For example, the IEP could include goals and objectives that address the following: Improve social skills such as sharing, taking turns, or thinking before acting Develop ability to carry on a 2-way conversation Identify social norms for the child who does not catch on to them by him or herself Participate in friendship groups to practice social skills with peers under direction of school staff Increase self-advocacy skills so child can say “no” or “stop that” Improve speech intelligibility so child can interact with peers Identify and practice direct and indirect ways to react to, handle, and avoid bullying behavior Examples of supplementary aids and services, program modifications or supports : Hallway or playground monitoring by school staff Allowing child to leave class early to avoid hallway incidents Use social stories to help child understand difficult situations when they occur In-service for school staff to understand child’s disability and vulnerability In-service for classroom peers to help them understand child’s disability and/or child’s use of assistive technology, paraprofessional, or interpreter (i.e., things that are “different”) Educate peers about school district policies on bullying behavior Set up a no-questions-asked procedure for child to remove him or herself from a situation where bullying behavior occurs Vignette: Will, a 12-year-old boy with autism, is in middle school. During his IEP meeting it was decided that Will would have a paraprofessional aid him in the classroom, but Will would be responsible for moving between classes. During the first week, Will handled the transition well. Early in the second week, a group of students in the hallway walked by Will, whose mannerisms often drew attention. A student jumped in front of him and screamed as if to startle him. Will’s eyes welled up with tears, he plugged his ears with his fingers, and sat down in the hallway. Will was frozen, fearful, and unable to recognize what he should do next. Will remained seated in the middle of the hall until the class period began and his paraprofessional came to look for him. Will’s IEP team met again to consider supplementary aids and services, program modification and supports to address Will’s sensitivity to loud noises and crowded, socially confusing situations, such as the school hallway. Discussion Tip : What goals and interventions might be included in the IEP to address bullying? 26
  • Federal Laws that Apply to Disability Harassment Parents have legal rights when their child with a disability is a target of bullying. Federal laws protect the rights of a child with a disability against bullying behavior that is based on the child’s disabilities and that interferes with or denies the child the opportunity to participate in or benefit from the educational program. These laws include: Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (often referred to as Section 504) Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) enforces Section 504 and Title II of the ADA. The Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services administers the IDEA. The laws apply to disability harassment because: • Disability harassment may deny a student an equal opportunity to education under Section 504 or the ADA • Disability harassment may deny a free, appropriate public education (FAPE) for eligible students with disabilities under Section 504, ADA, or IDEA The United States Department of Education sent a letter to school principals, superintendents, and college and university presidents on July 25, 2000. (Available on-line at http://www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/disabharassltr.html). T his letter provides an overview of legal and educational principles involved in harassment based on disability. The following information that addresses disability harassment is taken from this very important letter. “ Schools, colleges, universities, and other educational institutions have a responsibility to ensure equal educational opportunities for all students, including students with disabilities. This responsibility is based on Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504) and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (Title II), which are enforced by [Office for Civil Rights]. Section 504 covers all schools, school districts, and colleges and universities receiving federal funds. Title II covers all state and local entities, including school districts and public institutions of higher education, whether or not they receive federal funds. Disability harassment is a form of discrimination prohibited by Section 504 and Title II. Both Section 504 and Title II provide parents and students with grievance procedures and due process remedies at the local level. Individuals and organizations also may file complaints with OCR .” “ Harassing conduct also may violate state and local civil rights, child abuse, and criminal laws . [emphasis added] Some of these laws may impose obligations on educational institutions to contact or coordinate with state or local agencies or police with respect to disability harassment in some cases; failure to follow appropriate procedures under these laws could result in action against an educational institution. Many states and educational institutions also have addressed disability harassment in their general anti-harassment policies.” Excerpt from “Dear Colleague” letter from U.S. Dept. of Education 27
  • Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) “ States and school districts . . . have a responsibility under Section 504, Title II, and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) . . . to ensure that a free appropriate public education (FAPE) is made available to eligible students with disabilities. Disability harassment may result in a denial of FAPE under these statutes. Parents may initiate administrative due process procedures under IDEA, Section 504, or Title II to address a denial of FAPE, including a denial that results from disability harassment. Individuals and organizations also may file complaints with the [Office for Civil Rights], alleging a denial of FAPE that results from disability harassment. In addition, an individual or organization may file a complaint alleging a violation of IDEA under separate procedures with the state educational agency. State compliance with IDEA, including compliance with FAPE requirements, is monitored by OSERS Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP).” Excerpt from “Dear Colleague” letter from U.S. Department of Education (2000) http://www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/disabharassltr.html Vignette : Jane has a severe learning disability, delayed social skills, and no friends at school. Taking advantage of this, a group of popular girls told her a “secret” – that tomorrow they were having a “clash day” and would all wear outlandish dress. They invited her to join them. The next day she was the only one to dress in this manner. She felt humiliated and was even suspended for the day. After this experience, Jane never raised her hand in class, attended no extra-curricular activities, and her grades plummeted. Discussion Tip : How can bullying result in the denial of a free appropriate public education? 28
  • Respond to Disability Harassment—The Role of the School Policy When a child is at school, his or her safety is the responsibility of the school personnel. School districts have a legal responsibility to respond to disability harassment allegations. “ The first step for school districts is to develop and disseminate an official policy statement prohibiting discrimination based on disability harassment. There need not be a separate grievance procedure designed specifically for disability harassment, as long as the grievance procedures that are available are effective in resolving problems of this nature. The school district should widely publicize the anti-harassment statement and procedures for handling discrimination claims by including the anti-discrimination statement and at least a synopsis of the grievance procedure in its student and employee handbooks. To ensure broad circulation, the statement and grievance procedures or synopsis may also be posted at school sites, published periodically in a newspaper of general circulation in the area or sent home to parents with report cards or other communications. The anti-discrimination statement should identify the person to whom complaints of disability discrimination (as well as other types of unlawful discrimination) should be made by title, business address, and telephone number. Any synopsis of the grievance procedure should include directions as to how and where to obtain a free copy of the complete grievance procedure. The school district also has the responsibility to respond to disability harassment if and when it does occur by taking effective action to promptly end the harassment, prevent it from recurring and, where appropriate, addressing the effects on the student who was harassed.” Reprinted from “OK Parent Connection”, Oklahoma Parent Center, January 2002, Andrea Kunkel Discussion Tip: What policies does your district have for anti-harassment and procedures for handling discrimination claims? Where is it published?     29
  • Prevent Disability Harassment—The Role of the School Policy The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) recommend the following measures to prevent and eliminate harassment: • “ Creating a campus environment that is aware of disability concerns and sensitive to disability harassment; weaving these issues into the curriculum or programs outside the classroom. • Encouraging parents, students, employees and community members to discuss disability harassment and to report it when they become aware of it. • Widely publicizing anti-harassment statements and procedures for handling discrimination complaints, because this information makes students and employees aware of what constitutes harassment, that such conduct is prohibited, that the institution will not tolerate such behavior, and that effective action, including disciplinary action, where appropriate, will be taken. • Providing appropriate, up-to-date, and timely training for staff and students to recognize and handle potential harassment. • Counseling both person(s) who have been harmed by harassment and person(s) who have been responsible for the harassment of others. • Implementing monitoring programs to follow on resolved issues of disability harassment. • Regularly assessing and, as appropriate, modifying existing disability harassment policies and procedures for addressing the issue, to ensure effectiveness.”  Excerpt from “Dear Colleague” letter from U.S. Department of Education (2000) http://www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/disabharassltr.html 30
  • Keep a Record When a child is a target of bullying, parents need to document the events and develop a record (or history) of what is happening to their child. This record is useful when talking with school educators, law enforcement personnel, or other individuals who may need to assist parents in intervening against bullying. Parents, as the most invested parties, should do their best to keep track of events. In this way, emotions alone do not drive the discussion. Records can help parents keep a concise, accurate timeline of events. Parents may think they are going to remember the events, but it is easier to use a written record when referring to events versus trying to recreate them afterward. The record can also help in determining if the bullying behavior has increased or decreased in frequency or duration. The record should be factual and based on actual events. Do not add opinions or emotional statements. Data is important. Remember— if it is not in writing, it does not exist . Content should include: • written information about the bullying incidents • the date of the event, • the persons involved, • and the child’s account of the event. Also include: • all communication with professionals (teachers, administrators, etc.) • the date of the communication • discussion (summary) of the event • the responses of the professional • the action taken • reports filed by the school in accordance with the school district policy Other methods for recording events may include pictures taken of the child after a bullying incident to document any physical evidence, health care records that indicate bullying, or a tape recording of the child talking about the bullying. Vignette: Billy, a 12-year-old diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, had been a target of bullying since the first day in his new school. He told his parents about the behavior right away. Billy’s dad bought a journal and has recorded each of Billy’s conversations about the bullying incidents. Billy’s father started a second section of the journal after he began having conversations with Billy’s teachers and other school personnel. When the parents decided to write the school a letter, they were able to easily refer to the journal for an accurate and thorough account of the events. Discussion Tip: What are some effective methods of record keeping? 31
  • Notifying School Administrators of Harassment Concerns The following are 10 suggested steps to follow when parents choose to formally notify school administrators about their concern of harassment based on the child’s disability. In writing, address the notification to a specific person and date the letter. Write the letter to a person who has the authority to investigate and the authority to correct the wrong. Note that the school district is a recipient of federal financial assistance. State the past or continuing discriminatory activity against your child. State that the school district has control over both the site of the discrimination and over any school personnel involved. Explain that the discrimination was not a single act but was severe and pervasive. Tell how the discrimination excluded your child from continued participation in school or denied your child the benefits to which other students in school have access. Explain, as well as you can, what you would like the school to do to stop the discrimination or to remediate the harm the discrimination has done to your child. Ask for a copy of a school district grievance procedure under Section 504 (even if your child has an IEP under IDEA). Not having this information may result in continued discrimination. State that if the person receiving this letter does not investigate or does not take effective corrective action, that you may claim that the district showed deliberate indifference to the discrimination. You may also want to add a date you expect to hear back from the district in regards to your letter. These steps are adapted from attorney Reed Martin’s “10 steps to making a successful complaint”. This information is educational and not intended to be legal advice. Reed Martin is an attorney with over 34 years experience in special education law and recognized as one of the nation’s leading experts. He can be reached through email at connie@reedmartin.com or www.reedmartin.com Discussion Tip: In what situations might a formal complaint be the most effective? In what situations might a more informal approach be effective? 32
  • Parents Are Their Child’s Best Advocate A child with a disability who is a target of bullying behavior needs the help of a parent to intervene against the behavior. Parents are their child’s best advocate—they are the persons most familiar with their child’s strengths, abilities, and vulnerabilities. Parents can be the most important factor in determining an effective intervention plan because they know their child best. Parents, children, and adults in the school should work together to prevent and intervene against bullying so that the child knows all of his or her options and understands how to respond to bullies in different situations. Working together ensures that the child has contributed to the solution, understands the interventions, and feels confident about the strategy. After participating in this curriculum, you have information on some informal strategies as well as some that are quite formal. The strategies provided in this curriculum are a guideline for developing a plan to intervene against bullying behavior. We hope you have the information you need to begin the development of your child’s intervention plan that matches the individual needs of your child and family. Some parents might use only the child-parent strategies, while other parents may decide to use some of the family-school strategies to resolve bullying issues. The most important factor is that parents have a variety of options to assist them in deciding and carrying out what they think are appropriate intervention strategies for their child. Discussion Tip: What do you view as the most useful strategy you learned in this curriculum? 33
  • Is your child a target of bullying

    1. 1. Bully Intervention - i Preventing & Responding to Bullying: It’s More Than Just Kids’ Stuff! Ames Autism Support Group February 2, 2010 Presented by Susan Myers ASK Resource Center [email_address]
    2. 2. Is Your Child a Target of Bullying? Intervention Strategies for Parents of Children with Disabilities Bully Intervention - 1
    3. 3. “ Disability harassment can have a profound impact on students, raise safety concerns, and erode efforts to ensure that students with disabilities have equal access to the myriad benefits that an education offers.” “ Dear Colleague” Letter from U.S. Department of Education (2000) The Need for Intervention Bully Intervention - 2
    4. 4. <ul><li>At risk of short and long-term effects such as: </li></ul><ul><li>School avoidance </li></ul><ul><li>Low self-esteem </li></ul><ul><li>Increased fear or anxiety </li></ul><ul><li>Depression </li></ul><ul><li>Lower grades </li></ul><ul><li>Increased violence in the school </li></ul>Outcomes of Bullying Bully Intervention - 3
    5. 5. Defining Bullying Behavior <ul><li>“ Bullying among children is commonly defined as intentional, repeated, hurtful acts, words or other behavior, such as name-calling, threatening and/or shunning committed by one or more children against another.” U.S. Department of Education Bullying Prevention Manual </li></ul>Bully Intervention - 4
    6. 6. Defining Disability “Harassment” “ Disability harassment . . . is intimidation or abusive behavior toward a student based on disability that creates a hostile environment . . .” Excerpt from “Dear Colleague” letter from U.S. Department of Education (2000) Bully Intervention - 5
    7. 7. Common Views about Bullying <ul><li>“ Boys will be boys” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Girls don’t bully” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Words will never hurt you” </li></ul><ul><li>“ It is a natural part of childhood” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Some people deserve to be bullied” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Bullying will make kids tougher” </li></ul><ul><li>“ It was only teasing” </li></ul><ul><li>Adapted “The Bully-Free Classroom” Beane, Allan L (2002) </li></ul>Bully Intervention - 6
    8. 8. Children Who Bully “ Bullies can come in all shapes, sizes, races, and gender.” “ Your Child: Bully or Victim? Understanding and Ending Schoolyard Tyranny” Peter Sheras, Ph.D., 1999 The most common characteristic of children who bully — they seek to demonstrate power . Adapted from www.bullybeware.com Bully Intervention - 7
    9. 9. Children Who Are Targets Children who are bullied are not victims, they are targets — who can change what is happening to them with help from parents and school staff. Bully Intervention - 8
    10. 10. Types of Bullying—Physical <ul><li>Hitting, kicking, or pushing </li></ul><ul><li>Taking property </li></ul><ul><li>Damaging property </li></ul><ul><li>Forced or unwelcome contact </li></ul><ul><li>Perceived intent to harm </li></ul>Bully Intervention - 9
    11. 11. Types of Bullying—Verbal <ul><li>Teasing with the intent to hurt/harm </li></ul><ul><li>Name calling </li></ul><ul><li>Threats against the target </li></ul><ul><li>Intimidation </li></ul><ul><li>Demeaning jokes, stories or remarks about another’s differences </li></ul><ul><li>Gossiping </li></ul><ul><li>Spreading rumors that hurt one’s reputation </li></ul>Bully Intervention - 10
    12. 12. Types of Bullying—Emotional <ul><li>Alienation or exclusion from groups </li></ul><ul><li>Manipulation done to harm acceptance into groups </li></ul><ul><li>Damage to reputation </li></ul><ul><li>Public humiliation </li></ul><ul><li>Creating a sense of unease for the target </li></ul><ul><li>“ Flaming” or posting slander to the Internet </li></ul>Bully Intervention - 11
    13. 13. Types of Bullying—Sexual <ul><li>Sexually charged comments </li></ul><ul><li>Inappropriate or lewd glances </li></ul><ul><li>Inappropriate physical contact </li></ul><ul><li>Exhibitionism </li></ul><ul><li>Sexual assault </li></ul>Bully Intervention - 12
    14. 14. Planning Ahead <ul><li>Teach self advocacy skills </li></ul><ul><li>Help your child understand their disability </li></ul><ul><li>Encourage social development </li></ul><ul><li>Build support systems </li></ul>Bully Intervention - 13
    15. 15. When a Child May Be a Target Many children will be able to easily identify the behavior of another as bullying, but for some children with disabilities, it may be difficult for them to determine or understand that they are a target. Bully Intervention - 14
    16. 16. Talk with Your Child about Bullying <ul><li>Listen </li></ul><ul><li>Believe </li></ul><ul><li>Be supportive </li></ul><ul><li>Be patient </li></ul><ul><li>Provide information </li></ul><ul><li>Explore strategies </li></ul>Bully Intervention - 15
    17. 17. Questions to Ask Your Child <ul><li>Did the child hurt you on purpose? </li></ul><ul><li>Was it done more than once? </li></ul><ul><li>Did it make you feel bad or angry? </li></ul><ul><li>Did the child know you were being hurt? </li></ul><ul><li>Is the other child more powerful than you in some way? </li></ul><ul><li>(Adapted from Your Child: Bully or Victim? Understanding and Ending Schoolyard Tyranny” Peter Sheras, Ph.D., 2002) </li></ul>Bully Intervention - 16
    18. 18. Recognize Your Reaction When a parent discovers their child is being bullied, they may feel a variety of emotions. Bully Intervention - 17
    19. 19. Deciding Appropriate Strategies Strategies should be appropriate for: <ul><li>The situation </li></ul><ul><li>The age of the child </li></ul><ul><li>The child’s ability and comfort level </li></ul><ul><li>The supports available for the child </li></ul>Bully Intervention - 18
    20. 20. Reactions to Bullying—Indirect <ul><li>Disregard the bully </li></ul><ul><li>Use self-talk </li></ul><ul><li>Practice role-playing and problem solving </li></ul><ul><li>Move away from the situation </li></ul><ul><li>Stay with a peer </li></ul>Bully Intervention - 19
    21. 21. Reactions to Bullying—Direct <ul><li>Educate the bully </li></ul><ul><li>Agree with the bully </li></ul><ul><li>Seek the help of an adult </li></ul><ul><li>Do something the bully would not anticipate </li></ul><ul><li>Ask the bully to stop </li></ul>Bully Intervention - 20
    22. 22. Encourage Group Involvement Studies show children who interact with their peers are less likely to be bullied. Bully Intervention - 21
    23. 23. Seek the Help of Professionals Professionals may offer support, advice, and information to assist parents in determining the best intervention to stop a child from being a target of bullying. Bully Intervention - 22
    24. 24. Be Involved at School Parents can take an active role in their child’s school. Let the teachers and students know who you are and that you are interested in your child’s safety and well-being. Bully Intervention - 23
    25. 25. Connect with Role Models Parents can make connections with adults (other parents and educators) who are influential, positive role models. Bully Intervention - 24
    26. 26. Promote Change in the School “ Research indicates that creating a supportive school climate is the most important step in preventing harassment.” U.S. Department of Education; Office for Civil Rights, January 1999, Protecting Students from Harassment and Hate Crime: A Guide for Schools Bully Intervention - 25
    27. 27. Use the Child’s IEP Develop goals and interventions in the IEP to build skills that prevent bullying and develop methods to intervene against bullying behavior. Bully Intervention - 26
    28. 28. Federal Laws that Apply to Disability Harassment • Section 504 • Americans with Disabilities Act • Individuals with Disabilities Education Act “ Dear Colleague Letter” http://www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/disabharassltr.html Bully Intervention - 27
    29. 29. Free Appropriate Public Education “ States and school districts . . . have a responsibility under Section 504, Title II, and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) . . . to ensure that a free appropriate public education (FAPE) is made available to eligible students with disabilities. Bully Intervention - 28
    30. 30. Respond to Disability Harassment—The Role of School Policy The school district has responsibility to take effective action to respond to disability harassment. Bully Intervention - 29
    31. 31. Prevent Disability Harassment— The Role of School Policy Create a campus environment that is aware of disability concerns and sensitive to disability harassment. Bully Intervention - 30
    32. 32. Keep a Record When a child is a target of bullying, based on disability, parents need to document the events and develop a record of what is happening to their child. Bully Intervention - 31
    33. 33. Notifying School Administrators Ten steps for notifying school administrators of harassment concerns. Bully Intervention - 32
    34. 34. Parents Are Their Child’s Best Advocate <ul><li>Parents are the people most familiar with their child’s strengths, abilities, and vulnerabilities. </li></ul>Bully Intervention - 33

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