Our school is proud of the traditions, high expectations, and inviting atmosphere that make it a good place to learn and grow.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The ABC's of Bullying Prevention

Here's a great article from Education World ® Professional Development Center: The ABCs of Bullying Prevention.

You might hear people make false or misleading claims about bullying. Those erroneous beliefs serve to downplay the seriousness of bullying, and can keep school staff and parents from taking the necessary action to respond to the problem. Changing false beliefs about bullying can help change the response to the problem. Let's take a look at a some of those myths.

"Bullying builds character."
Rather than building character, bullying can cause children to become anxious, fearful and unhappy. It also can lower their self-esteem. Bullied students might come to believe something is wrong with them and even that they deserve such treatment. Some adults might contend that bullying can be a learning experience, but for most victims, the lesson of bullying is that the world is unsafe and people cannot be trusted.

"Bullying is a harmless rite of passage that is a natural part of growing up."
Bullying might be a fact of life for many children, but that doesn't mean it needs to be accepted as a normal or inevitable part of childhood. Certainly, it is not harmless. Many bullying victims are left with lasting psychological scars.

"Bullying is no more than kids being kids."
Bullying is far different from child's play. When children fool around, they choose to do so. Victims of bullying, however, do not choose to be tormented. Furthermore, bullies and victims are not on equal footing. The bully is typically stronger and more physically imposing than the victim.

"Kids bounce back quickly after being bullied."
Although some children weather bullying more easily than others, many suffer long-term effects from the experience. Those who insist that they survived the ordeal without harm might have forgotten the genuine hurt they felt at the time.

"Victims of bullying usually bring it on themselves."
According to that theory, the victim's behavior provokes the bully into reacting and thus the victim is blameworthy. The reality is that bullies often choose their victims because they appear weak, isolated, or vulnerable, or because they seem different in some way. We need to convey the message to victims that they did nothing wrong; it is the bullies who are wrong.

"Bullying will disappear if you ignore it."
In fact, the opposite is the case. Closing your eyes to the problem is giving bullies a license to continue inflicting pain on other children, while telling their victims they must handle the problem on their own. One student, when asked why he was bullying another student, gave the simple answer "because I can." He was bullying because he thought he could get away with it. The reality is that bullying must be confronted vigorously, and bullies must be held accountable for their behavior.

"Sticks and stones may break your bones, but names can never hurt you."
Telling that to a bully is usually of little comfort to a child who is being constantly teased or called names. The pain caused by verbal blows often can last longer than that caused by physical blows, especially if the bullying is frequent and ongoing. That fact is captured in the following poem by an unknown author.

Sticks and stones may break my bones,
But words can also hurt me.
Sticks and stones break only skin,
While words are ghosts that haunt me.

Slant and curved the word-swords fall
To pierce and stick inside me.
Bats and bricks may ache through bones,
But words can mortify me.

Pain from words has left its scar
On mind and heart that's tender.
Cuts and bruises now have healed;
It's words that I remember.

"Victims of bullying must learn to stand up for themselves."
Although we want children to learn to resolve conflicts with their peers on their own, that doesn't mean they should be left to fend for themselves in the face of typically bigger, stronger children. Some students simply are unequipped to deal with the intimidation; retaliation could result in their getting hurt. In those cases, they need the help of an adult. Victims of bullying need to be told that that seeking help is not a sign of weakness, but rather a sign of good sense.

"Hit the bully back and he'll leave you alone."
Not only is that untrue in most cases, it is likely to make the problem worse. Bullies are unlikely to back down if their victims fight back. Rather, they are likely to strike back if challenged, placing the victim in harm's way. You also do not want to give the message that violence is acceptable.

"No students are bullied in this school."
Some principals would like you to think that bullying does not take place in their schools; the reality is, virtually every school has bullies.

About Ken Shore

Dr. Kenneth Shore is a psychologist who has worked in various public schools for more than 25 years. He has authored six books and produced a book and video series on bullying for schools and parent organizations called The ABCs of Bullying Prevention. Click to read a complete bio or to e-mail Dr. Shore. For information on how to obtain his books and videos, go to his Web site.

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

Mrs. Thomas,
I must say I really enjoy the blog! I was reading this blog and the newspaper article about bullying and I was not really clear about an issue that involved tattling. I noticed that reporting or telling that you are being bullied is encouraged but not tattling. Well for younger children and older children really how do they know the difference? If students do tattle and are told that they shouldnt would that not lead the person bothering them to believe that it is okay to continue and wouldn't that eventually in some cases lead to bullying. When students report that they are being picked on or hit and is considered a tattle taler then that encourages students to not tell anymore regardless of how often they are picked on because after all who wants to be labeled a tattle taler. I personally think a tattle taler is a student that constantly tells Ms. Doe hes looking at me, hes touching my arm, he tapping on the desk, etc. but not a student that tells that they have been attacted physically or called names. I personally teach my child if someone hits you "tell the teacher" and I really dont expect him to be ignored or called a tattle taler. I am sure if I told him everytime someone hits you or call you a name you hit them back or call them a name back that would lead him right to the principals office. So where do we draw a line for our kids to know when it is okay to tell and when it is not, I think that that needs to be clarified for both students and parents. Thanks for your response, A concerned parent.