Posts Tagged ‘bully’

Bullying is a serious issue.  It happens with all age groups.  It happens in all communities.  White, brown.  Rich, poor.  Public schools, private schools.  Girls and boys.  It has also been happening for many years and has not been taken seriously.  Now we have children dying because of it.  We can no longer turn our back to it.  We can no longer be quiet about it.

 For the purpose of addressing the bullies it has been recommended in the school system that the schools: 

  • Increase supervision is inadequate in unstructured locations, such as the school  bus
  • Ensure there are consequences for bullying
  • Have the perpetrator have conferences with a counselor
  • Have the perpetrator have a conference with administrator
  • Notify the parents of the incident, both from the perpetrator perspective and the victim
  • Establish a disciplinary write-up which includes parent contact
  • Escalate to the law enforcement officials.

For the purpose of addressing the victims it has been recommended creating a program to help children prevent assaults and other victimization.  These programs typically include:

  • Helping children identify dangerous situations;
  • Teaching children techniques for evading these situations, such as saying ‘no,’ yelling and screaming, and running away;
  • Encouraging children to tell an adult about the incident;
  • And assuring the child that the incident is not his/her fault.

Children Against Children Research Center (CCRC) researchers have investigated the efficacy of such programs. Among the findings:

  • Children appear to acquire the concepts that are being taught in these programs.
  • Children involved in school-based prevention programs were more likely to use the school-taught self-protection strategies when victimized or threatened; were more likely to feel they were successful in protecting themselves; and were more likely to disclose to someone about the victimization attempts.
  • Children in school-based prevention programs were not able to lessen the seriousness of assaults and, in fact, received more injuries in sexual assaults.

It doesn’t surprise me that the students understood the concept of the bullying program and perhaps improved the reporting of the occurrences.  I don’t believe that it is true that the students were more likely to use self-protection strategies.  Once again the burden is on the child.  The child realizes there are repercussions with these strategies, and who is going to be there when they don’t work.  Remember the same strategies are being taught to the victims and the perpetrators.  And finally as it states above, there has not been an improvement in the seriousness of the assaults.

I don’t have the all of the answers, but I think there needs to be zero tolerance for acts of bullying, whether that be teasing, harassment, or bullying.  I don’t care what you call it.  All I know is it is detrimental.  Zero tolerance means immediate consequences.  What do we do in the adult world.  If an individual assaults another person, and it has been proven to be true by the legal system, the perpetrator losing his rights.  Why are we not doing the same with children?  I really don’t see how any of the tactics described above are going to “change” the bully, and ensure that it is changed. 

The only thing I suggest is that everyone needs to be much more observant.  When an incident occurs or is suspicious it should be seriously investigated and addressed.  The only way a bully will change his actions is if he knows what the consequences are, and the consequences are severe enough that would dissuade the bully from continuing with this deviant behavior.  There should no longer be a private enforcement of consequences.  How many times have you heard through the grapevine that so and so got detention, or so and so was sent home, or so and so had their parents brought into school?  When a bully makes the decision to harm others  he has taken a public stand, and he has lost the right for privacy.  Make it public.  Set an example.  These kids need to know what fear is. 

As for the victims, once again we need to be observant.  When an incident arises, whether the victim reports it or other students, the situation needs to be addressed.  Immediately.  All of the students, both victim and perpetrator should recognize that it is being addressed.  Once students recognize that the adults are truly taking care of the situation, including protecting the victim, they will be more likely to report such incidents.  And finally, no child should be taught that they need to deal with peer issues all by themselves.  This is too much for a victim of bullying to be responsible for.  Children do not have the ability to judge what they should do.  This action alone is a punishment to the victim.  You may say, but that is going to require judgement, and who is going to be responsible for that?  Well right now we are making the victim be responsible for the judgement, and this wrong.  We need to quit punishing the victim, and start punishing the bully.  .  As an adult I have this right, then so should our children. 

Sources: 

Olweus, D. (2001). Peer harassment: A critical analysis and some important issues. In J. Juvonen & S. Graham (Eds.), Peer harassment in schools: The plight of the vulnerable and the victimized. New York: The Guilford Press.

Related Posts:

Teasing . . . another form of bullying

Bullies and their victims . . .

As you may know, bullying has been a hot topic lately.  Most schools have included the topic in their curriculum and it has been a big headline in the news.  The View did an interview with a boy and his family that had been recently bullied.  I did a search on Google for bullying and suicide related news.  The list of news articles about kids that had committed suicide due to being bullied was endless.  Take a look at a few of the articles.  The stories are pretty much the same over and over again.

Teen bullying victim tells ‘The View’ why he thinks he was attacked

Family: Bullying Cause Of Slippery Rock Teen’s Suicide – News

Bullying -> Depression -> Suicide -> Jared’s Story

Teen suicide after bullying – Quincy, MA – The Patriot Ledger

Lance Lundsten, Tiffani Maxwell Commit Suicide After Reported Bullying

Teen Bullying Leads to Suicide – CBS News Video

Truth Wins Out – Another Bullying-Related Suicide in Minnesota

I really don’t understand why this has become a hot topic.  It is true that the suicides are an awful event, but bullying is not a new phenomenon.  It has been going on for ages, and it has been ignored for ages.  The link between bullying and school violence has increased attention since the 1999 rampage at Colorado’s Columbine High School.  The sad thing about most of these stories is that other people (students and teachers) knew about the bullying situation and knew of a change in behavior of the kids that were being bullied.

So I ask myself why do people bully, and here are some of the reasons I came up with:

  • The bullying incidents are not reported or observed.  Therefore no one can take action on the incident.
  • Many times victims will not admit bullying occurred because they fear retaliation which would make the situation worse.
  • Sometimes victims will not report incidents because they are ashamed.  It is not easy to admit that you are weaker.
  • Sometimes bullying continues with witnesses, but the bystanders are uncertain about how to intervene.
  • Other students don’t report the event because they fear the bullying will turn to themselves and then they too will become a victim.
  • Probably the worst situation is when students continue to bully because they know that an adult observed the bullying incident and didn’t do anything about it.
  • The bully has not paid for any consequence for his behavior.

While I was reading some of the news articles about real life events of children being bullied, there was one characteristic that was common.  The bullying was not a one time event.  It appears that once bullying starts, it continues to recur.  Take a look at some of these articles:

Bullying lawsuits Florida: Parents go to court to stop bullying

Bullied student case heads to Ohio Supreme Court – morningjournal.com

Mom says Springfield boy, 11, who committed suicide was repeatedly

Parents tell Hellgate board bullying of special needs students

So I ask my self why is bullying an offense that occurs over and over again to the same victim.  Here are some of the reasons that I could come up with to explain this situation:

  • The bullying incidents are not reported or observed.  Therefore no one can take action on the incident.
  • Many times victims will not admit bullying occurred because they fear retaliation which would make the situation worse.
  • Sometimes victims will not report incidents because they are ashamed.  It is not easy to admit that you are weaker.
  • Sometimes bullying continues with witnesses, but the bystanders are uncertain about how to intervene.
  • Other students don’t report the event because they fear the bullying will turn to themselves and then they too will become a victim.
  • Probably the worst situation is when students continue to bully because they know that an adult observed the bullying incident and didn’t do anything about it.
  • The bully has not paid for any consequence for his behavior.
I don’t think bullying is a big secret.  I can, to this day, name the people who I went to school with or rode the bus with who were bullies and who were victims to bullies.  The bus was a notorious place for bullies to pull their stunts.  It occurred day after day, and usually the bus driver was aware of it, and did nothing about it.  The only time the bus driver intervened is if it became a physical fight.
 
I can remember an incident that occurred, probably when I was in the 7th grade and it occurred on the bus.  This bus had kids from all age groups, including elementary kids and high school kids.  There was a group of individuals on the bus that “ruled” the bus, and every day you prayed that they didn’t notice you.  You never knew what would happen if you were in the spotlight of these bullies.  They could bully you over the littlest thing or for nothing.  It was known that once you were bullied you would always be bullied, or at least until the bullies graduated from school or dropped out.
 

The one incident that sticks out in my mind was between several highschool kids and another high school boy.  The group consisted of  bullies that were both girls and boys.  The only difference was the girls bullying consisted of taunts, and the boys would taunt along with physical annoyances.  This will sound ridiculous, but the reason that this kid was bullied was because he wore a flat-top hair cut.  This was in the late 60s and early 70s which was a time way past the days of flat-tops.  Every day this poor kid put up with the taunting.  He usually stayed to himself and was very quiet.  One day one of the highschool boys put gum in his hair.  This was the last straw, and the taunting turned into some pushing and shouting.  Finally the bus reached the kids stop, and as he was getting off the bus he said to one of the other high school boys, “I’d call you a prick, but a prick is a man, and you are no man.”  I was kind of proud of him.  A little too dramatic but he stood up to them.  Unfortunately the sad thing was he never rode the bus again.  I have no idea what happened to the kid with the flat top.  I think the bullies had won.

The internet is full of statistics, but none of them are consistent.  The percent of individuals that report they have had involvement in bullying ranges from 80% to 30%.  Based on studies boys are more likely to conduct physical bullying, and girls are most likely involved with social bullying, such as exclusion.  The studies also say the bullies typically have a quality in themselves that is lacking, such as behavioral, emotional or learning problems.  It is also common that their parents used physical discipline.  On the contrary, the victim of bullying experience higher rates of loneliness, depression, school avoidance and thoughts of suicide. 

 So what do we do about it? I understand we have to address the bullies, but we also need to put some focus on the victims.

To be continued . . .

Source: 

Olweus, D. (2001). Peer harassment: A critical analysis and some important issues. In J. Juvonen & S. Graham (Eds.), Peer harassment in schools: The plight of the vulnerable and the victimized. New York: The Guilford Press.

Related posts:

Teasing . . . another form of bullying

One of the things I firmly believe in is that children are the treasures of our society.  When they are young, and uncorrupted by society, they are pure in heart and a blessing to us all.  They are a true representation of goodness and purity.  Even more important, they are our future.  Unfortunately sometimes our society does not treat them as “treasures,” and sometimes they have less rights than adults.  

I like you, you like me . . . not necessarily

Schools try to give this impression to the students that everybody likes everybody, and everyone should get along.  I am sure all of you heard this when your child was in kindergarten, “He plays so well with the other children.”  It really sends confusing messages to the child. It is not realistic to like all people.  If a child is taught that you should like everyone, what happens when a real life situation happens when he doesn’t like someone?  He begins to question himself and possibly thinking he is a bad person and in the wrong. 

In my home it is okay to not like someone.  The key is how you behave around this person.  I tell my son to take the high road.  Don’t initiate interaction with the individual if you don’t like him. If the individual tries to interact with you, respond curtly,  but pleasant, and with a dismissive tone.  Above all he should treat them as he would want them to treat himself.  I realize that this is easier said than done.  But it has to be much better than thinking you should be liking everyone, and if you don’t there must be something wrong with you.

Last year my son had a teacher that punished him for not saying hi to one of his classmates as he entered the classroom.   He didn’t omit the kid from his salutation.  He didn’t say a salutation to anyone.   My son did not care for the individual because of the boy’s behavior in the classroom.  In addition the classroom was not a pleasant experience for my son.  So my son did not feel like saying hi. I really don’t see anything wrong with that.  He wasn’t being disrespectful.  He didn’t break any school rules.  He did not have to fake a feeling when it wasn’t genuine.

You are on your own

When a child is having a social problem with a peer, the school teaches them to first try to take care of it themselves.  At school the child is supposed to be in a “safe” environment and the adults who are supposed to be making sure he is safe basically abandons him.  The second thing the school teach the students is, if they can’t resolve the issue themselves, they are supposed to tell an adult.  Are children really able to evaluate when to escalate a situation to an adult?  I doubt it.  

I know children struggle with this responsiblity.  My son did.  Children are also aware that there may be repercussions for telling an adult.  It could easily turn into a “he said, she said” situation, and then he is treated just as guilty as the perpetrator.  Children avoid this situation because there is a possibility of it being turned against themselves. Or even worse they could be accused of tattle-tailing. This accusation can come from his peers or sometimes even the “adult,”  and the child usually ends up being ostracized.  

So what if this is a bullying situation?   How do you think children that are being bullied are handling this? View it from the perspective of the child based on what he has been taught in school:

  • Everyone should like everyone
  • Everyone gets along with everyone
  • Don’t hit other children
  • Be cordial all the time, even if it is fake
  • Handle the situation yourself
  • Telling an adult may turn into a “he said, she said” situation
  • Telling an adult may turn into an accusation of being a tattle-taler from his peers or the adult
  • There may not be consequences for the offender, and the bullying will continue or get worse.

Is teasing really just ‘kidding’ around?  Do we really expect a child to handle being teased?  Some view this as less of an offensive than bullying activities.  Seems to me it is a form of bullying and can have dire consequences.  What do you think happens to a child’s self-esteem when he is being teased repeatedly?  What happens when the situation is dismissed by an adult?  Who does the child turn to for help?

Several years ago, my son was attending a preschool.  It was our intention to continue in this private school for kindergarten.  It had a good reputation, and seemed to be a better first step for starting school.  We were one of the few that had been awarded acceptance. 

The summer before kindergarten my son was switched to a new room and teacher.  Shortly after being transferred in the room, my son began showing hints that he was not happy at school, and each day was dreading to be dropped off.   I talked to the teacher and she pointed out that my son was new in the classroom and my son needed a little time to adjust.  She told me that there was a group of  five boys that had already been in the room for some time and they were a tight clique.  She even referenced to these five boys as the “gang” of boys. 

I decided to give it a little bit more time, but within a couple of weeks I could tell my son’s anxiety was increasing.  It was obvious the situation was not getting better.  I talked with him about it and he said the boys wouldn’t let him play with them and kept teasing him.  I told him to give it time.  He was new, and I’m sure it will change.

Well, it didn’t change.  Within a short time one of the teachers pulled my aside to talk to me and she said that she thought I should know that my son may be a little upset because the boys were teasing him about the color of his skin.  She said the boys were saying that my son’s skin turned brown because he drank chocolate milk.  I was a little shocked to hear this.  She also said she thought it was important for me to know this.  She obviously was concerned about the circumstances.

Now you may say I am an over-protective mother.  Maybe.  But I know what it is like to be teased, and I sure as hell was not going to let some six-year olds pick on my son because of his skin color.  My son had been going through a number of health issues and he was quite traumatized by some of it.  I really didn’t want another aspect of his life to be  difficult.  The kid needed a break.

The next day I did not take my son to the school until I had this situation corrected.  Instead, I scheduled to meet with the director of the school.  In our meeting I explained what the teacher told me about the teasing and asked the director if she had any suggestions for how to handle this.  Her suggestion was she was going to talk to each of the parents.  She also had the same reaction to the chocolate milk reference as I did.  I told her that I would like to help get this turned around.  I offered to buy and donate some books for the class regarding diversity.  I even offered to bring in a speaker that could talk about the subject with the kids.  She was very cooperative and very much in agreement with this. 

The next day I got a phone call from the director requesting that we meet again.  She said that she discussed this issue with the teacher of my son’s classroom and they came to the conclusion that this was not serious.  It was just plain old teasing.  She pointed out that there is another girl in the classroom that was African-American, and she was not being teased.  I was a little caught off guard when she concluded that we didn’t have an issue. 

I told her that I was not sure why they would pick on my son and not the little girl.  Perhaps it was because boys play with boys, and girls play with girls.  Or perhaps it was because my son had brown skin, and he has a mother who picks him up every day that is caucasian which drew attention to the situation.  In the end, I said it is irrelevant.  Teasing is teasing.  My son is being teased and I want it stopped. 

I asked the director if she was going to talk to the boys’ parents, and she said no.  I asked her if she realized that this behavior is a learned behavior.  She responded by saying that these children come from respectful and nurturing homes and she found that highly unlikely. 

I looked at her and realized I was not going to get anywhere with her.  She was just plain ignorant.  I turned to her and said, “I am pulling my son from the school.  I don’t want him to be in an environment that he does not feel wanted or safe.”  She said that it was my choice but I had to give her two week’s notice, as it is stated in our contract.  I looked at her and said, “You have got to be kidding.  I am taking my son home.  He will not be back.  He will also not be attending kindergarten at your school.  And since you have refused to resolve this issue, I am not paying for the two weeks.  It appears to me you are also a part of the problem.”  She responded, “You have to pay for the two weeks.  It is in your contract.”  My response was, “I’m not paying.  Sue me.”  And I headed out the door. 

Now I know this may sound like an insignificant event, but I wanted my child to know that his mother is there to protect him.  He could come to me anytime and we would get the issue resolved.  I also wanted him to know that he did not have to put up with situations such as this, and you had a right confront individuals involved.

I also wondered to myself, what lesson this “gang” of boys had learned.  It is okay to pick on someone.  It is okay to treat someone differently because of their skin color.  Since the adults around them did not take an action, it is okay to continue with this type of behavior.  In the end I was thankful that we left the school. 

To be continued . . .