Bullying In Schools

| June 4, 2012 | 0 Comments


Bullying In Schools

By Jodi Velazquez – Author “Slick Move Guide™”

If you are reading this article because you are looking for a quick miracle list of things to do to stop your child from being “bullied” – it isn’t here. The issue of “bullying” is complex. Each case has its own mix of variables to be considered before steps can be taken to solve the problem. However, you may discover some ideas from reading this article that might help you. I am writing about what I have learned and experienced over the years and offer some tips. Then I state what I think the “root” of the problem is and what could be done to improve the issue. I apologize for this blog being so long but I had a lot to say.

Bullying can be a variety of things: teasing or criticizing, purposely not including someone in a conversation or from a social gathering, or physical assault or abuse. Lately, the “bullying” problem in schools seems to be worse than ever.

The problem with bullying is it can make it worse for the child if the parents speak up or try to get involved. This can make it hard for parental contribution or involvement to help the situation. Some parents think that kids need to work it out so they avoid getting involved. As a parent, you owe it to your child to try to help. You will have to determine, given your situation, how to get involved and how much involvement is needed.

In elementary school, talking to the child’s teacher can be helpful. Ask the teacher to work with you in a discreet manner (without the bully knowing). In elementary school, a teacher can separate a child from a “bully” in the classroom and keep an eye on what is going on since the children are watched closely anyway due to their age.  Lunch time and recess can be a little more challenging and unfortunately this is where the majority of “bullying” goes on. Constant communication between the teacher, the parent and the bullied child are necessary and creative ideas to separate the “bully” and victim are helpful. In elementary school parents are often asked to come to the school for parties, events, or to read to the class. A parent of a “bullied” child should take advantage of this to get to know the teacher and possibly meet the actual “bully” and let them know who you are. In my opinion an elementary teacher can make a world of difference because the students usually stay with that one teacher the majority of the day. Teacher’s personalities and approaches can vary. Some may work slowly with you and listen to everything you have to say and this may be a big help. Some may want to be less involved and you may end up having to call the principal to get the teacher motivated. I knew of one teacher (who was pretty stern) who said, at the beginning of the year, she tells the class that she has “zero tolerance” for any form of bullying and will distribute “harsh punishment” to anyone who crosses this line. That entire year was drama free. This worked for her but in other scenarios this may not work. In any case, you should make an effort to get involved.

“Bullying” on the school bus is a really nasty problem. You may be so angry that you want to jump on the bus, right? This can get you in big trouble and is not the answer. Asking the bus driver to help may distract him or her from driving although they should be made aware of the problem. If you are dealing with this, the only answer is to contact the principal immediately and every time it happens. Requesting that your child sit right behind the bus driver can help.

In middle school and high school, social bullying can be difficult to prevent because it is less visible and can be hard for a teacher to notice. Also, kids have many teachers in middle school and high school which make it more complex to have a close personal connection with a teacher. In middle school, it seems that parents are not invited into the classrooms as often, if at all, and a feeling of disconnection can set in. You may be apprehensive to call the principal because the “bully” might actually be your child’s friend and you are friends with the parents. This is where it gets very complex.

Calling the parents of a child that is bullying your child is a step that should be well thought out before you do it. In elementary school, I would avoid this and let the teacher try to help since the teacher has ability to make some changes and monitor the situation. If you do not know the parent, absolutely let the school try first to correct the issue. In middle school, you may feel that you want to call the parent because you know them. If you do, instead of being accusatory, try an inquisitive approach. Ask if something has upset theirchild to make them angry with your child.  Emphasize that friends from school can be friends for life and helping your kids realize that it is important. Keep in mind that although other parents may support you prior to calling, after you make a call to the “bully’s” parents, they may not. Stand your ground; justice often has a price tag. Also, there will always be a parent who absolutely cannot fathom that their child would do anything wrong and if you come across this – it’s going to be tough.

What I have seen happen, on several occasions, is one child is trying to control a small group (mental bullying). The parents of the non-bullying child all start talking. Everyone knows what is going on except the parent of the bully. The other parents (who know what is going on) seem to be aware because they talk to their kid(s), eavesdrop at parties and sleepovers, monitor their Facebook account and emails and talk to the other parents. In time, the kids start pulling away from the bully and then a call comes in from the uninformed parent of the “bully”. How do you tell a parent that their child has been behaving badly which is why the kids are pulling away? The bully’s parent may be truly unaware. On the flip side, the parent of a “victim” may also be clueless. Children are way more perceptive than we think; if you are a parent who is “stressed” out  your child may hide the fact that they are being “bullied” because they do not want to add to your stress. This type of parent will always be “out of the loop”. Parents need to really be involved to get the full picture, to make sure that their kid is not being “bullied” and also to make sure that their own kid isn’t a “bully”.

Every situation is different; the measures taken to prevent bullying may not always work and might have to be modified on a continuous basis. However, as parents we owe it to our kids to get in there and try. Teachers, especially elementary, should be willing to
help parents and children on a continuous basis to prevent “bullying”. Principals should have zero tolerance for this behavior and strict punishment for offenders. Bus drivers, recess monitors, lunch monitors, special teachers, you know who the disruptive kids are, start sending them to the principal’s office to account for their actions.

A Deeper Look

Some schools have incorporated “Bully Prevention Education” classes into their curriculum but despite their efforts the problem seems to be growing not shrinking. I am unaware of what is taught in these “Bullying Prevention” classes that schools provide because I have never attended. I have asked my kids what these classes are like. I have also asked parents what they have heard. What I’m told is that “bullying” is described and videos show scenes of it taking place. The kids are taught what to do if they are “bullied” and what to do if they see it happening to someone else. I believe that this is helpful in some sense but I do not think that it will prevent it from happening. One mom told me that her kid said that, “The videos give us ideas because they show us things that we did not
even think of.” This is looking at the problem in its current state of existence. The world is currently trying to solve the complex problem of pollution. What is the approach that has everyone nervous? The future! When you paint a picture of the future, people seem to listen. I remember a friend telling me that her mom told her if she does not live like she does now or better; she will be unhappy. That was so deep! I was in fourth grade and I never forgot that. It scared me and was probably the deciding factor that made me want a college degree. It is a powerful statement that I heard when I was 10 and I never forgot. It was a little “out of line” and I don’t think that we should traumatize a child’s mind with threats of a grim future or put pressure on them by making “out of line” comments. However, a little reality in a subtle way might be a good idea.

In my opinion, schools need to include the future when it comes “bully education”. My suggestion is to explain how people rely on each other. I would explain the future in a casual but realistic way. I would stress that a great majority of people stay in their home town or close by and what it might be like as an adult that encounters classmates in the future. I would explain Karma. Wouldn’t it be awkward if you had a job interview and the owner of the company was someone that you bullied or, worse yet, the parent of someone you bullied? What if your automobile insurance adjuster turned out to be someone you bullied? Maybe one of the teachers or coaches at your child’s school was someone that you bullied? I am not implying that any wrong-doing would take place but it may be uncomfortable. Our actions are important. I would have the kids in “Bully Prevention Education” act out “futuristic” plays where everyone had an occupation and they all, at some point, needed each other. Painting the future in a positive way may make the consequences a little clearer for bullies. The definition of habits and patterns needs to be explained to the kids. What you are doing now, as a child, could very easily become a habit when you are an adult. Consequences for adult misbehavior should be explained in detail. I have watched the “Locked Up” shows on television. What I find most shocking is when a prisoner explains to the camera that it was a mistake that he or she made as a teen or twenty year old. They were given a harsh or lifelong sentence and they fully understand the stupidity now, but it is too late. If there is a school that has a “physical” bullying problem and they are not incorporating discussion about how a juvenile criminal’s future may be, then they are doing the students an injustice. Is it worse to “shock” an adolescent with grim stories about the future or just let them “mess up” and then find themselves in a situation like many on “Lock Up”? Also, why do bullies bully? This should be discussed; desire for power, desire for control, lack of confidence, anger. Guidance for youth is so important. Are these topics discussed in “bully prevention” classes? When you feel strongly about something, it is natural to want to voice your opinion. Be a parent that gets involved in these classes and see what is being taught. Offer ideas and volunteer your time to help if needed. If a teacher could incorporate daily or weekly lectures on the future and the disadvantage or embarrassment a bully might encounter, they may listen up.

Why is the “bullying” problem getting worse and not better? We are in a world today where everything is almost instantaneous. Many kids are removed from seeing labor. Food, products and information are all instantaneous. In middle school kids learn about how groups of people really did not become civilized until agriculture developed. They learn that agriculture enabled people to stay in one spot and rely on each other as towns were formed and trade developed. Kids learn about the “gold rush” and how empty land developed into a town with a bank, hotel, market, bakery, and barber shop and retail stores. However, without actually seeing this, or living it, I believe that kids do not understand that people help people and people need people. When you need or rely on someone, most of the time, you tend to treat them with a little more respect. In my opinion, there is definitely a lack of respect between the children in schools. Combine this with the current level of media exposure to violence and you have all the right circumstances for an ice cold environment in our schools.

What else could be adding fuel to the “bullying” explosion? In my opinion, lack of parental guidance is a big factor. It is exhausting to raise kids, especially if you are working full time, and a parent can become pretty tired by the time the child starts kindergarten. Life is busier than ever, but toddlers, children and teens need their parent’s constant advice even if they do not want it. I am talking about advice on morals and ethics and how to show compassion, appreciation and respect. Showing them by actually helping someone in front of them and or telling someone something nice in front of them is needed. The brain’s development is still in full progress during adolescence. Teenagers need constant parental guidance and reinforcement.

I have also noticed another issue that I believe is of relative importance and I want to share itwith you without opening a huge can of worms. My youngest daughter attended the preschool that was within the public school that she attends. It was offered free of charge and I had heard great reviews. It worked out very well and seemed to serve the purpose. However, my older daughter attended a
preschool at a nearby church because the teachers at this church agreed to monitor her blood sugar because she is diabetic. The preschool at the public school was unable to do this. For this reason, I took her to the church preschool; where religion was permitted. The preschoolers started every day off with prayer and they prayed for whichever children were absent or sick. I don’t want to go way off track but I notice that my older daughter that attended the church for preschool has an exceptional amount of compassion that makes me smile when I see it. Both of my daughters are compassionate but it arrived a little earlier with the older one. My point is, just taking that moment every
morning to acknowledge the absent children and pray for them, I believe, instilled compassion. Bullies do not have compassion. If teachers can’t pray in public schools; how about just a little daily compassion session or lesson.

I believe painting the future by both parents and teachers should be part of the process. In addition to explaining  criminal life and how people need each other for survival, we also need to teach our kids that people need people, sometimes, just for comfort. A decade after high school, you may find yourself with small children, difficult finances, other issues and it is a friend who might carry you through. A girls night out or a day on the golf course with the guys can be so comforting. If you don’t have any friends, it could be very tough. Parents need to stress the value of friendship. Reinforcing morals, ethics, compassion, appreciation and respect are desperately needed. Tell your kids to tell their best friend that they really like them as a friend and appreciate their friendship. Demonstration is needed. As parents, we need to take time out of our busy day to show our kids good behavior. Kids need to hear their parents say, “I love you”. We have to tell them about the future. We have to be able to let them hear us say to a friend, “Hey, you have really brightened up my life and I need you, thank you”

Thank you for reading,

Jodi Velazquez

Reference: Brain development: http://www.breakingthecycles.com/blog/2009/05/28/how-teens-can-become-alcoholics-before-age-21/

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