Parents Primer on School Bullying
If a school says "we don't have that problem here" don't believe it. In March 2000 and honorable student jumped off a bridge, leaving a 17 page note saying that he was killing himself because his classmates tormented him with names like gay or faggot. He never told his mother he was being bullied. Another young lady hung herself with a dog leash in her bedroom. She also left a note, which said if she tried to get help it would get worse. They are always looking for a new person to beat up, and they are the toughest girls. I couldn't rat as it would be no stopping them. Most Canadians remember the tragic 1997 murder of a high school student whose body was battered from a senseless beating before she was deliberately drowned. A girl and a boy were convicted of second-degree murder and six girls were found guilty of aggravated assault. Her death is an example of bullying taken to its ultimate expression but even in its mildest forms bullying is about one thing: the strong taking unfair advantage of the weak.
Bullying is defined as the tendency for some children to frequently oppress, harass or intimidate other children, verbally, physically or both, in and out of school. It is not minor behavioral problems that are part of growing up. The most common form is name-calling. Children call others names for many reasons, short or fat, has a lisp, skin color, stutter or a physical disability. Maybe a slow learner or wears different clothes. Typically victims are smaller and weaker and shy and insecure. Boys bully more than girls and the tormenting can be physical. 23% of boys surveyed say they engage in bullying compared to 8% of girls. Both genders are among victims equally affected. With girls, bullying has a subtle form such as whispering, rumors and shunning. Many parents are unaware that this is happening because they never discuss it with their kids. Most bullying takes place in and around school. In video surveillance cases bullies get reinforced by those who watch but do not join in. Very few of the cases did support the victim.
Canada has documented that in grades 4 to 8 one of five children was victimized periodically while one in 12 was bullied weekly or daily. If your child at some point becomes emotional and says they do not want to go to school anymore and do not want to tell you what the problem is, you need to pay attention. What turned some children and bullies? Researchers studied information from 558 students in grades 6 to 8. The students were then divided into three groups, 228 who rarely or never bullied, 243 who reported a moderate level of bullying and 87 who reported excessive amounts of bullying. Those who were the most forceful bullies had received very forceful, physical discipline from their parents and had viewed TV violence and showed more misconduct at home. 32% of those live with a stepparent and 36% of those living in a single-parent household. Bullies have fewer adult role models and more exposure to gang activities and access to guns. This partly explains why bullies need help as much as victims. Many learn their behavior by example. Bullies want people to look up to them and try to achieve this by acting tough. They try to create status for themselves. They are often unhappy in school, immature and unpopular and many kids associate with them out of fear. Bullying is a part of an overall pattern of antisocial behavior and rule breaking.
Many boys continue being a bully throughout their later life. As adults they have increased risk for criminality, marital violence, child abuse and sexual harassment. Researchers found convicted delinquents had previously tended to be troublesome and dishonest only to become more aggressive and frequent liars later in life. Over 60% of boys identified as bullies had a least one-court conviction by the age of 24. They were more than four times likely to be serious criminals than non-bullies.
How can you tell if your child is being bullied? Most schoolchildren won't tell you. But certain symptoms should make you suspicious. These include a reluctance to go to school, fearfulness or unusual anxiety, sleep disturbances and nightmares, vague physical complaints especially on school days, or belongings to come home ripped or are missing altogether. If you suspect your child is a victim Joan asked the question now right. Ask them indirectly how they are spending lunch hour or what is it like walking to school or taking the bus. Ask if there are children in school who are bullies without personalizing it. Ask their teachers how they deal with conflict when it occurs. If you are then certain your child is being bullied let the school know you take it very seriously. Here are some simple rules that make it a lot easier to deal with:
1. Be a good listener, stay calm and give your child plenty of time to tell how they feel. Make it clear it's not your child's fault and don't suggest your child simply fight back.
2. Don't overreact. Ask yourself if it's serious enough to discuss with the teacher or principal or police.
3. Help your child avoid situations that expose him or her to bullying. If it occurs to her from school change the route.
Here are some ideas of what your child can do when they encounter a bully:
1. Stand straight and tall if faced with a bully and look them straight in the eye.
2. Be polite and firm and say" stop it, I don't like it. Leave me alone."
3. If it all possible, don't cry or show you upset. Walk away if you can't hide your feelings.
4. Report events to the adult you trust most.
5. Parents should contact your child's school and ask about a bullying policy.
6. Inform authorities of what is taken place.
When you are considering a school for your child, asked the principle of it has an anti-bullying policy and how well it works. If they tell you they don't have that problem, don't believe it. The problem exists in all schools. It is unrealistic to expect it can be totally eliminated, but one can eradicate the conditions that turn some children into bullies and others into targets. Make sure everyone is committed to zero-tolerance and there is solid evidence that the amount and the severity of bullying can be reduced dramatically.