How To Help Victims Of Bullying: Advice For Parents & Educators
The US Justice Department says 80% of all students have been the victims of some form of Bullying. It’s time to start "Taking the Bully by the Horns."
by Kathy Noll – author of Taking the Bully by the Horns kathynoll.com
Frequent contributor to the Gazette
February 1, 2009
For the past 10 years, child-on-child violence has been increasing. Physical abuse, harassment, and robbery have driven many victims to substance abuse or suicide. The US Justice Department says 80% of all students have been the victims of some form of Bullying.
It’s time to start "Taking the Bully by the Horns."
What do you do when your child doesn't understand why he (or she) is getting picked on by other kids? Through anger, tears, and frustration your child asks if he can change schools.
First let's define "bullying." Bullying consists of purposely directed threats, physical attacks, words, gestures, or social exclusion. Bullies try to "control" their victims by making them feel small so they can feel big.
Sometimes kids get so sick of being victims, that they become the "Bullies." They feel so bad about themselves and think that controlling someone else will make them feel better or help distract from their own problems. In my book, "Taking the Bully by the Horns," I refer to this as the "Bully Cycle." Bullies creating more bullies.
Your child admitted to you he's being bullied which is the first step toward getting help. But what if he didn't confide in you and you know there's a problem? (Cuts/bruises, depression, reluctance to go to school) If he's too embarrassed or scared, he might deny it. He needs to know he can trust you and look to you for help.
Give him the option of settling the situation himself. This will empower him and improve his self-esteem. Some children get bullied because they need help with poor social skills: untied shoes, shoulders slouched, avoiding eye contact, shirt half tucked in, unclean hair/body… Try role-playing to see how your child acts around other kids. This gives you the opportunity to help your child work out acceptable responses.
If the bullying is physically dangerous, notify the school and the bully’s parents. Find a safe means of transport to/from school or suggest your child walk in a group, never alone.
Stay involved in your child’s life to become more sensitive to problems occurring. Ask questions and listen with an open mind. Sometimes just being heard helps. Set a good example by showing how to settle conflicts by talking things out peacefully. Reward him when he uses these positive skills to settle differences. Children need to feel loved, valued, and understood. Begin working today to promote healthy communication and a bully-free future for you and your child.
Is one of your students being bullied? The signs are there: cuts or bruises, missed homework assignments and missed attendance, plus fear, depression, and anxiety. Perhaps a bully bystander was encouraged by school policy to do the right thing and reported the bullying incident, or the victim may have come directly to you for help on their own. Maybe you, as a caring Educational Office Professional, witnessed a bullying incident, or you simply know something is wrong.
However the means, the bully problem has been exposed, and it is up to you to resolve the issue as soon as possible. Ask for a moment alone with the victim in the school office. Discuss the problem, ask questions, and develop answers that relate to the problem. Listen and respond with an objective, open mind, and make sure the victim knows it is never their fault. It is very important to protect the mental health and self-esteem of the victim while resolving the bullying issue.
Call the parents of the victim and make them aware of the problem, if they aren't already. Ensure them that the school is concerned about the welfare and education of all its students. Tell them that bullying behavior will not be tolerated and that the situation is being handled.
Offer the victim protection from future harassment, and follow through by making sure it is enforced: talking to the bully, contacting the bully's parents, and adult supervision in hallways, locker areas, and the cafeteria.
Open discussion in the classroom, allowing students to give their ideas on how they would like situations to be handled, and to share what treating another student with respect means to them.
Don't forget that bullies need adult intervention as much as victims do. Teach all students acceptable ways of dealing with bullying behavior. No school wants to run the risk of gaining a reputation of being dangerous or unsafe. In order to create a safe school environment, Educational Office Professionals must learn how to recognize students who are bullies. Children who bully have a sense of entitlement. They are angry most of the time, and prone to violent outbursts and destruction of property. They thrive on being in control, and hurt others with no responsibility or remorse. Bullies are usually not committed to their school work or teachers, show a lack of respect toward others, and believe that their anger and violent behavior is justified.
Take immediate action when bullying behavior is observed so that both victims and the bullies know that mistreating someone is not tolerated. When a bullying incident occurs, ask the bully the following questions:
What did you do?
Why was that a bad thing to do?
Who did you hurt?
What were you trying to accomplish?
Next time you have that goal, how will you meet it without hurting anybody?
How will you help the person you hurt?
These questions will help them to acknowledge their own actions and the consequences they have on themselves and others, develop shame and guilt ("I don't want to go through that again" & "I hurt someone"), change their actions to stay out of trouble, and learn to trust and form relationships with helping adults.
Children who use violence to resolve conflicts, grow up to be adults who use violence to resolve conflicts. And schools who do not take steps to control bullying behavior face negative consequences such as failing their academic mission, losing enrollment, and litigation. 46% of schools do not take steps toward bullying prevention. Don't let your school accept the label of being "unsafe."
Let's do all we can now to help both the perpetrators and victims of bullying end this vicious cycle, heal their bodies and minds, and begin living healthier, stress-free lives. To learn more, please visit Kathy Noll's website: www.kathynoll.com
Kathy Noll is the Author of "Taking the Bully by the Horns," an active Child Welfare Advocate & Glamour Magazine's "Woman of the Year" for "Saving Children's Lives, Making the World a Better Place, and Empowering Those in Need"