12 Steps To Eliminate Bullying
What You Can Do To Stop Bullying….
Bullying is a serious problem with long-lasting effects that can be the root cause of criminal behaviour, academic failure and lack of self-esteem later in life.
Researchers agree that children who bully in childhood are more likely to become violent adults and engage in criminal behaviour; victims of bullies often suffer from anxiety, low self-esteem and depression as they grow into adulthood.
The problem of bullying is so widespread that it is often cited as a major contributing factor in the recent cases of teen suicides (and even school shootings in the USA). According to the National Resource Center for Safe Schools, 30% of children are regularly involved in bullying, either as bullies or victims, and approximately 15% are “severely traumatised or distressed” as a result of encounters with bullies.
Furthermore, according to a report issued by the Department of Education, 28% of all students, 12 to 18 years old, reported that they had been bullied sometime in the prior six months. These students typically reported that someone at school had used hate-related words against them or were bullied by being pushed, tripped or spit upon.
Other studies indicate that 60% of students identified as bullies in grades 6 to 9 had at least one criminal conviction by age 24 and that bullies themselves are at even greater risk of suicide than their victims.
What are the long-term effects of bullying?
Lurline James, a Berkeley mother, recounts what can happen when bullying is not stopped. Her son was the victim of a gang of five primary school bullies who continually verbally abused him. For six months her son tried to ignore them and always walked away. The gang repeatedly ridiculed him and verbally abused him before, finally, leaving him alone (and moving on to harass another poor boy). To this day her son continues to suffer from a lack of self-esteem, has trouble making friends, and now, years after the bullying incident, is now in counselling.
Bullying, commonly thought to be a problem for boys, is just as prevalent among girls. It often takes the form of intentional verbal abuse or malicious gossip by several girls ganging up on one girl. Jessie, an overweight sixth grader, recounts the torment of being continually teased by three girls she previously considered her best friends: “You just feel so bad that you want to stop going to school, you want to leave all of the real friends that you do have and just lock yourself in a room forever!” she cried as she recounted her story of being bullied.
When is it teasing and when is it bullying?
One of the common myths about bullying is that it is just a normal part of childhood. Everyone gets teased now and then without a great deal of harm, but bullying, characterised by repeated, intentionally hurtful acts, can have long-term consequences for the bully and the victim. These acts can be physical, verbal, emotional or sexual. The significant factor determining whether any behaviour is seen as teasing or bullying is the apparent or perceived imbalance of power between the bully and the victim.
What are the signs that your child is being bullied?
The usual signs include:
- Torn clothing
- A loss of appetite
- Lack of desire to go to school
- Mood changes
- Unexplained injuries
Characteristics of victims:
- Tend to be quiet, passive children who don’t have many friends
- Tend to be smaller in size and/or physically weaker than the bully
What are the signs that your child is a bully?
- Impulsive behaviour
- A desire to always be in control
- Showing little or no empathy for others
- Disregard for family authority and home rules
- Cruelty to animals
Characteristics of bullies:
- Tend to have problems at home
- Tend to be the victims of aggressive behaviour or abuse at home
- Have inconsistent discipline and/or poor supervision at home
- Tend to be aggressive, over confident and lacking in empathy
Four HORRENDOUS MYTHS about bullying
- Victims are responsible for bringing bullying on themselves
- Bullying is just a normal part of childhood
- Bullies will stop if you just ignore them
- Victims need to learn to stand up for themselves
What should my child’s school be doing to address bullying?
The truth is that the school system should be doing everything in their power to stop bullying! Period. However, the reality is that if you’re hoping that your child’s school is going to stop the bullying of your child, you’re going to be very, very disappointed indeed.
They may well act in good faith and with the very best of intentions and its also true that there are some fantastic teachers and school administrators who will make a great difference in some children’s lives, but the reality is also very clear…… It’s your child, it’s your problem.
There’s a million miles of difference between “managing” a bullying incident at school and solving a long term bullying crisis in a child’s life.
What can parents do about bullying?
The most important thing you can do is listen to your child. Ask about how things are going at school. Ask if your child has had any experience with bullies or has seen other children experience bullying. Often children are too embarrassed or scared to bring up the topic on their own.
You can bring it up by discussing sympathy and respect for others, asking such questions as “Why do you think she said those hurtful things?” or “How do you think it feels to be bullied?” You’ll want to have a discussion about how to handle bullying situations.
Stan Davis, a Maine school guidance counsellor and trainer in bullying prevention, advises encouraging the majority of children who are not victims or bullies to stand up to bullies, to ask adults for help and to reach out as friends to isolated children.
You may be tempted to intervene by confronting the bully and his parent yourself, but most experts advise against doing so. If you confront the bully, you will only verify for him that your child is a weakling. Many bullies come from homes lacking in parental involvement, so confronting the parent might not prove productive. Besides, it will probably be difficult for you to talk to the bully’s parent in a calm and rational manner and that might only exacerbate the problem.
Your instincts may tell you to let the child learn to handle the situation himself, but in actuality he may need an adult (either a teacher or a parent) to intervene when bullying takes place because of the imbalance of power. Alert your child’s teacher or school principal when bullying occurs and work with your school to make sure the atmosphere is safe and that there is effective monitoring. Ask to be notified should your child be involved in any bullying incident.
Twelve Steps to Eliminate Bullying
Whether you are a parent, an educator, or a concerned friend of the family, there are Twelve Steps you can take to prevent, stop and eliminate bullying:
1. Pay Attention
There are many warning signs that may point to a bullying problem, such as unexplained injuries, lost or destroyed personal items, changes in eating habits, and avoidance of school or other social situations. However, every child may not exhibit warning signs, or they may even go to great lengths to hide it. This is where paying attention is most valuable. Talk to your children on a regular basis and ask open-ended questions that encourage conversation.
2. Walk The Talk
Children learn many social cues from adults, parents/caregivers, and their peers. By modelling empathy, tolerance and respect in your actions and communication, you impart these values, and influence the attitudes and behaviours of your children.
3. Don’t Ignore It, When You See Something – Do Something!
Never assume that a situation is harmless teasing. Different children have different levels of coping; what may be considered teasing to one may be humiliating and devastating to another. Whenever a child feels threatened in any way, take it seriously, and assure the child that you are there for them and will help. Intervene as soon as you even think there may be a problem between children. Don’t brush it off as “kids are just being kids. They’ll get over it.” Some never do, and it affects them for a lifetime. All questionable behaviour should be addressed immediately to keep a situation from escalating. Summon other adults if you deem the situation may get out of hand.
4. Monitor Your Child Online
Cyberbullying is the fastest growing type of peer-on-peer mistreatment today. It is important for parents to be able to monitor their children’s use of Facebook, MySpace and other social media sites, both at home and on mobile devices. If your child is being bullied by someone via text, social networks, your website, emails or another online space, do not respond to the bully. Provocation is especially counterproductive in a situation where the bully is anonymous.
Instead of responding to the bully, take these measures:
- Save the evidence. Don’t delete threatening emails, messages or texts. You may need to have them if things get worse.
- Block the bully. If the person is known to you, block him or her from social media pages, erase him or her from your phone contacts, and block correspondence in any way possible. This is often enough to deter the bully from further action. If the person is anonymous, mark the email address as spam.
- Change the account settings to make it more difficult to find you online. Start using a new screen name or tighten the privacy settings on your social media accounts.
5. Understand Your School’s Policies
Rules, procedures and policies regarding bullying can vary greatly from school to school and implementation at the actual school site may be lacking. Speak with school officials about what policies they have in place and what programmes they have implemented to address bullying and cyberbullying.
6. When You Intervene, Remain Calm & Refuse To Argue With Either Child
Model the respectful behaviour you expect from the children. First make sure everyone is safe and that no one needs immediate medical attention. Reassure the kids involved, as well as the bystanders. Explain to them what needs to happen next — bystanders go on to their expected destination while the children involved should be taken separately to a safe place.
7. Deal With People Individually
Don’t attempt to sort out the facts while everyone is present, don’t allow the children involved to talk with one another, and don’t ask bystanders to tell what they saw in front of others. Instead, talk with the individuals involved — including bystanders — on a one-on-one basis. This way, everyone will be able to tell their side of the story without worrying about what others may think or say.
8. Don’t Make The Children Involved Apologise And/Or Shake Hands On The Spot
Explain that you take this type of behaviour very seriously and that you plan to get to the bottom of it before you determine what should be done next and any resulting consequences. This empowers the bullied child, and the bystanders, to feel that someone will finally listen to their concerns and be fair about outcomes.
9. Hold Bystanders Accountable
Bystanders provide bullies an audience, and often actually encourage bullying. Explain that this type of behaviour is wrong, will not be tolerated, and that they also have a right and a responsibility to stop bullying. Identify yourself as a caring adult that they can always approach if they are being bullied and/or see or suspect bullying.
10. Listen And Don’t Pre-Judge
It is very possible that the person you suspect to be the bully may actually be a bullied student retaliating or a “bully’s” cry for help. It may also be the result of an undiagnosed medical, emotional or psychological issue. Rather than make any assumptions, listen to each child with an open mind.
11. Get Appropriate Professional Help
Be careful not to give any advice beyond your level of expertise. Rather than make any assumptions, if you deem there are any underlying and/or unsolved issues, get a referral for your child to see a counsellor, school psychologist, social worker, or other appropriate professional.
12. Discuss Your Family Bullying Policy
There isn’t just one easy solution, bullying is an extraordinarily complex issue. However, families can and should discuss what they believe to be an appropriate response to bullying. For the sake of everyone involved, your children need to understand that their safety is paramount and that sometimes, they may have to defend themselves physically. Your children need to know what will happen to everyone involved if they should physically respond to a bullying incident. Sometimes, the bully may just deserve a good punch in the nose. Ultimately, it’s the role of the parent to determine the appropriateness of any given response and to decide the circumstances under which your child has the “GREEN LIGHT” to use appropriate force and the consequences for doing so.
13. IMPORTANT BONUS STEP Martial Arts Classes
It’s important to remember that anyone can be bullied and conversely, anyone can be a bully. What seems to be the common denominator is that bullies and their victims tend to be lacking in both self-confidence and self-discipline. Fortunately, we have the perfect tool available to us to build strong personal confidence and reinforce good character traits…… Martial Arts Classes.
However, it should be stressed that not any Martial Arts School will do the job. Many “supposed” Martial Arts are in fact actually sports that encourage violence. Pastimes like MMA should be scrupulously avoided as their focus tends towards expressing their skills by inflicting violence rather than by avoiding it. In actual fact, any Martial Arts style that encourages and participates in Tournaments and fighting for trophies will inevitably exacerbate your bullying issues.
As a rule, look for Martial Arts Schools that have Traditional values and reflect a self defence and character development mindset rather than a fight mindset.