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October is National Bully Prevention Awareness month.  Schools and organizations across the country have joined the Stomp Out Bullying campaign.  The goal is to encourage communities to work together to stop bullying and cyberbullying by increasing awareness and impact on children of all ages.  

Bullying is a cruel intentional act that is often repeated.  It is prevalent in schools, playgrounds, neighborhoods, and even workplaces.  If children are not taught to deal effectively with such behavior the bullying becomes worse.  Adult bullies often become very proficient at threats and intimidation to get what they want.  Such behavior may be verbal, emotional, sexual, physical or cyber-bullying.  Being a victim is traumatizing for adults, but even worse for children.

The best time to talk to your child about bullying is before they have been exposed to it.  This helps them to mentally prepare and have a plan of action.  This alone will help build their confidence and self-esteem.

HELPGUIDE.ORG provided the following classifications.

Physical Bullying

  • Hitting, kicking, pushing, threatening
  • Stealing, hiding, destruction of other’s property
  • Hazing, harassment, humiliation
  • Making someone do something against their will

Verbal bullying

  • Name-calling
  • Teasing, taunting
  • Insulting
  • Cursing someone

Very young children can’t distinguish between bullying and unkind behavior.   Children need to know that unkind behavior is also inappropriate—e.g. “Your hair is really messy.”  “Your mom is fat.” “I don’t like you.” and “You stink.”

StopBullyingSign.jpg

Some Successful Strategies:

  • Ignore the bully, if possible
  • Walk away and pretend to feel brave and confident.
  • Protect yourself.  Safety is the top priority!
  • Don’t bully back.
  • Don’t show your feelings.
  • Tell an adult. Report every threat or assaults. (Teach the difference between tattling and reporting.)
  • Be proud of who you are!

Bullying typically involves at least three individuals—the bully, bystander, and victim.

As students get older, bystanders should be taught to mobilize together, speak up, support the victim, and be a positive influence.  

Dr. Phil McGraw supports teaching Bully BUSTER Skills for Bystanders.

B-Befriend the Victim

U-Use the Distraction (to focus other’s attention elsewhere)

S-Speak Out and Stand Up!

T-Tell or Text for Help

E-Exit Alone or With Friends

R-Give a Reason or Remedy

Victims of bullying often become bullies as they grow older.  Therefore, it is crucial for a nationwide effort to Stomp Out Bullying!  Bystanders can truly make a difference in reducing peer cruelty and halting the cycle.

As parents and community members, we need to continue the awareness and discussion of bullying and its emotional impact on others!

Diane Reed, MA, LPCC

Here are ten tips for preventing cyberbullying by Sameer Hinduja, Ph.D. and Justin W. Patchin, Ph.D. of the Cyberbullying Research Center.

1. Establish that all rules for interacting withpeople in real life also apply for interacting online or through cell phones. Convey that cyberbullying inflicts harm and causes pain in the real world as well as in cyberspace.

2. Make sure your school has Internet Safety educational programming in place. This should not solely cover the threat of sexual predators, but also how to prevent and respond to online peer harassment, interact wisely through social networking sites, and engage in responsible and ethical online communications.

3. Educate your children about appropriate Internet‐based behaviors. Explain to them the problems that can be created when technology is misused (e.g., damaging their reputation, getting in trouble at school or with the police).

4. Model appropriate technology usage. Don’t harass or joke about others while online, especially around your children. Don’t text while driving. Your kids are watching and learning.

5. Monitor your child’s activities while they are online. This can be done informally (through active participation in, and supervision of, your child’s online experience) and formally (through software).Use discretion when covertly spying on your kids. This could cause more harm than good if your child feels their privacy has been violated. They may go completely underground with their online behaviorsand deliberately work to hide their actions from you.

6. Use filtering and blocking software as a part of a comprehensive approach to online safety, but understand software programs alone will not keep kids safe or prevent them from bullying others or accessing inappropriate content. Most tech‐savvy youth can figure out ways around filters very quickly.

7. Look for warning signs that something abnormal is going on with respect to their technology usage. If your child becomes withdrawn or their Internet use becomes obsessive, they could either be a victim or a perpetrator of cyberbullying.

8. Utilize an “Internet Use Contract” and a “CellPhone Use Contract” to foster a crystal‐clear understanding about what is appropriate and what is not with respect to the use of communications technology. To remind the child of this pledged commitment, we recommend that these contracts be posted in a highly visible place (e.g., next to the computer).

9. Cultivate and maintain an open, candid line of communication with your children, so that they areready and willing to come to you whenever they experience something unpleasant or distressing in cyberspace. Victims of cyberbullying (and the bystanders who observe it) must know for sure that the adults who they tell will intervene rationally and logically, and not make the situation worse.

10. Teach and reinforce positive morals and values about how others should be treated with respect and dignity.

Working with your child’s School

If your child tells you that he or she has been bullied or if you suspect your child is being bullied, what can you do?

  • Keep a written record of all bullying incidents that your child reports to you. Record the names of the children involved, where and when the bullying occurred, and what happened.
  • Immediately ask to meet with your child’s classroom teacher and explain your concerns in a friendly, non confrontational way.
  • Ask the teacher about his or her observations:
    • Has he or she noticed or suspected bullying?
    • How is your child getting along with others in class?
    • Has he or she noticed that your child is being isolated, excluded from playground or other activities with students?
  • Ask the teacher what he or she intends to do to investigate and help to stop the bullying.
  • If you are concerned about how your child is coping with the stress of being bullied, ask to speak with your child’s guidance counselor or other school-based mental health professional.
  • Set up a follow-up appointment with the teacher to discuss progress.
  • If there is no improvement after reporting bullying to your child’s teacher, speak with the school principal.
  • Keep notes from your meetings with teachers and administrators.

Bullying happens in every school, but with an effective bullying prevention program, bullying can be reduced. If your child is being bullied, chances are that there are other children in the school who are having similar experiences.

If your school does not have official anti-bullying policies or an active bullying prevention program, work with other parents and your school officials to develop one.

Tips for Parents

Bullying among children is aggressive behavior that is intentional and involves an imbalance of power and strength. Parents are often reluctant to report to educators that their child is being bullied. Why?

  • Parents may be unsure how best to help their child and may be afraid that they will make the situation worse if they report bullying.
  • They may be embarrassed that their child is being bullied.
  • Sometimes, children ask parents not to report bullying.
  • Parents may fear being seen as overprotective.
  • They may believe that it is up to their child to stop the bullying.

Children and youth often need help to stop bullying. Parents should never be afraid to call the school to report that their child is being bullied and ask for help to stop the bullying. Students should not have to tolerate bullying at school any more than adults would tolerate similar treatment at work.

All children are entitled to courteous and respectful treatment by students and staff at school. Educators have a duty to ensure that students have a safe learning environment. Fortunately, most educators take their responsibilities to stop bullying very seriously. Several states have passed anti-bullying laws and require public schools to have an anti-bullying program in place. Ask for a copy of your school’s policy or check the student handbook to see whether your school has policies that will help resolve the problem.

What is Bullying?

A lot of young people have a good idea of what bullying is because they see it every day! Bullying happens when someone hurts or scares another person on purpose and the person being bullied has a hard time defending himself or herself. Usually, bullying happens over and over.

  • Punching, shoving, and other acts that hurt people physically
  • Spreading bad rumors about people
  • Keeping certain people out of a “group”
  • Teasing people in a mean way
  • Getting certain people to “gang up” on others

Bullying also can happen online or electronically. Cyberbullying is when children or teens bully each other using the Internet, mobile phones or other cyber technology. This can include:

  • Sending mean text, email, or instant messages
  • Posting nasty pictures or messages about others in blogs or on Web sites such as facebook.
  • Using someone else’s user name to spread rumors or lies about someone.

*In the next post tips for how parents can deal with this will be discussed.

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