What can be done?
For some solutions, I'm turning Kick Back Moments over to Sandra McLeod Humphrey. Sandra is a retired clinical psychologist, a character education consultant, and an award winning author of eight middle-grade and young adult books. She's also the recipient of the National Character Education Center's Award for Exemplary Leadership in Ethics Education (2000) and the 2005 Helen Keating Ott Award for Outstanding Contribution to Children's Literature. You can learn more about her books by visiting her website at http://www.kidscandoit.com.
|Sandra McLeod Humphrey|
Bullying Then and Now
School bullying is nothing new and was once considered a character-building rite of passage for our children, but now it is seen for what it is--a form of victimization and abuse which can leave lasting psychological scars.
Unfortunately, school bullying is on the rise everywhere, and schools need to have anti-bullying policies in place and operational. The stories in my book Hot Issues, Cool Choices: Facing Bullies, Peer Pressure, Popularity, and Put-Downs are all based on actual bullying experiences that students shared with me during my school visits and is dedicated to a 12-year-old Minnesota boy who took his own life as a result of being bullied. Unfortunately, bullycides are becoming all too common these days.
During my school visits, we role-played different bullying scenarios, so that the students could "feel" the same situation from the perspective of the bully, the bully's victim, and the bystander and I always emphasized the importance of the role of the bystander who can inadvertently (or sometimes purposely) facilitate the bullying situation.
The difference between bullying then and now is that, in the past, a student was able to get away from the bullies and find at least temporary refuge in his or her own home. There is no such refuge for today’s victims with the advent of cyberbullying. Bullying that begins at school can continue via cell phone and the social networking sites. Victims can feel overwhelmed and powerless, sometimes leaving them to believe that suicide is their only option.
The good news is that public awareness about the serious ramifications of bullying is increasing, thanks to anti-bullying campaigns and new legislation; TV coverage by people such as Anderson Cooper, Dr. Phil, and Oprah Winfrey; the White House Conference on Bullying Prevention; and even students themselves (see http://youtu.be/5IJA-uxretY)
Like any other kind of abuse, school bullying is intolerable and it’s time for all of us to dispel the old adage that “Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me.” Words do hurt!
Some Parental Tips:
1. Listen: Encourage your children to talk about school,
friends, activities, etc.
2. Take your children’s complaints of bullying seriously:
Remember that children are often afraid or ashamed to
tell parents that they have been bullied and a simple
bullying incident may turn out to be quite significant.
3) Watch for symptoms of victimization: social withdrawal,
drop in grades, personality changes, etc.
4) Use children’s books to initiate a discussion about
bullying: Judy Blume’s Blubber is a classic novel about classroom dynamics, shifting alliances, and the bullying that can go on unseen by adults. Trudy Ludwig’s Just Kidding emphasizes the distinction between tattling (trying to get someone in trouble) and reporting (trying to help someone in trouble). And my book Hot Issues, Cool Choices: Facing Bullies, Peer Pressure, Popularity, and Put-Downs offers specific bullying scenarios which encourage readers to talk about the choices they would make in those situations.
Some Student Tips (Remember, bullying is all about power, so try not to give the bully that power):
1) Ignore the bully when possible: the bully is waiting for
you to react, so stay calm and don’t react when
2) There’s strength in numbers: bullies generally don’t
pick on groups, so hang with your friends.
3) Don’t retaliate in kind: this usually will just escalate
the situation. Violence usually leads to more violence.
4) Tell an adult you trust: If the bullying continues, tell
a parent or teacher or some other adult you trust.
5) Don’t underestimate your role as bystander: bystanders
can unintentionally (or sometimes intentionally) have
the power to facilitate or stop the bullying situation.
Remember, No one deserves to be bullied, so don’t suffer in silence. Do something or tell someone!
Some Suggested Internet Resources:
International Bullying Prevention Association: http://www.stopbullyingworld.org/
Olweus Bullying Prevention Program: http://www.olweus.org
Rachel’s Challenge: http://www.rachelschallenge.org/
Stop Bullying Now: http://www.stopbullyingnow.com/
Thanks Sandra for stopping by and sharing this important information with us.
KICKBACK BOOK OF THE WEEK:
One way to prevent bullying is to inspire young people to greatness. They Stood Alone...25 Men and Women Who Made a Difference by Sandra McLeod Humphrey does just that.
Here is my review as it appears on Amazon.com and Goodreads:
Inspirational and fascinating, "They Stood Alone" by Sandra McLeod Humphrey provides a fresh biographical account of twenty-five men and women who changed the world. I learned about the simplistic values of Henry David Thoreau, the rebellious spirit of Galileo Galilei, the courage of Mohandas Gandhi, and the compassion of Mother Teresa. Although these peoples' names are familiar to most, I discovered new facts, like Clara Barton was a painfully shy child and Albert Einstein dropped out of school at fifteen because he not only hated school but his family had financial problems. In the end, these heroes overcame personal obstacles and achieved greatness. I also learned about less famous champions like Marion Anderson, the first black singer to sing with the Metropolitan Opera and pioneer of the modern environmental movement, Rachel Carson. Told with clarity and verbal imagery, Sandra Humphrey takes us on a journey into prominent lives that won't be forgotten. In fact, you may initiate stimulating conversations at social gatherings when you ask questions such as, "Did you know that Isaac Newton was only an average student?" Engaging, intriguing, and informative, both children and adults will be inspired to achieve their goals and dreams after reading, "They Stood Alone."
KICK BACK SONG OF THE WEEK:
Since bystanders and friends are antidotes to bullying, let's go with: You've Got a Friend by James Taylor
A LITTLE SOMETHING EXTRA:
In my soon to be released novel, A Stop in the Park, Michael Stolis realizes the importance of friendship:
"Michael welcomed the symphony. There wasn't anyone he could share his anguish with, but Rufus seemed willing to listen, maybe even help. It suddenly occurred to him what was happening. He was making a friend. At this point in his life, he had some acquaintances, who he didn't really care for, but no buds to hang with. Michael smiled. He liked the idea of having a friend."