Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Anti-Bullying Starts With Me

It seems that there isn't a day that goes by that I don't hear about anti-bullying. Usually it's on the news, something about new rules in a school district, new legislation, or a new case that has to do with someone being bullied to the extreme. We say we won't tolerate it. Teachers do what they can, parents have new programs on their computers to track what their kids are doing. We know their passwords and we check their phones. We want to make sure our kids aren't being bullied. We ask them about their day, we want to know if someone is hurting them verbally or otherwise.

But this doesn't address a key factor. Maybe I missed it somewhere, but in all the stories I've heard about parents checking on their kids, it's always about making sure they are the ones not being bullied. What if my child IS the bully?


Now, to be honest, as I'm sure most parents would say, I would be dumbfounded if I was told Caleb did something unkind to another student (or my other two kids, too, but let's stick with him since he's the only one in elementary right now). I'm not talking about not sharing (which we still have to work on) or cutting in line. I'm talking about malicious behavior, calling someone names, tripping them on the playground, those kinds of things. But I do think we need to be mindful of what causes a child to do these things. What about programs or material that tells parents what to look for at home that might mean their child is developing bully mentality?

What can I do to PREVENT bullying, not just sit by and waiting for my child to be bullied? We all think it will be someone else's kid. The truth is, it's going to be someone's kid...whose will it be?

And when teachers notice a child with these tendencies, I realize we should not tolerate it, but what can we do to rehabilitate their mind-set at an early age? Is it possible for the school to even help in this manner if the parent is in denial? Like I said, I can't imagine my children behaving in a bully-like fashion, but if it happens, not matter how minor, I would want to immediately figure out what to do - not shake my head and say, "Boys will be boys," or "Girls and their drama." That's denial.

What do you think causes bullying-tendencies?


Bethany said...

I think how the children were parented (or not parented) causing bullying. When they see unkind at home, they model it. Road rage, insensetivities, racism, jealousy... I think if the parents display it, the kids will, too.

Chrissy said...

I agree. So basically, there really isn't anything a school district can do.

Bethany said...

Also... sarcasm. I think parents who are sarcastic often don't account for sarcasm being an adult humor thing. I hate seeing middle level teachers being sarcastic because kids' still don't understand it as well as adults. They don't really get irony until the other half of their brain develops in later teenage years or early adulthood. Therefore, sarcasm usually is just teasing or a guise of teasing.

Bethany said...

I think the school district can have swift and harsh (or stern?) punishment for bullies.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Bethany and would like to add that grief and sadness can also be triggers. A friend of mine's sister that just passed away from leukemia left her 8-year old son behind. He is the sweetest child in the world; however, grief can do funny things. He can start acting out at school because he doesn't really know how to handle his sadness. You see this a lot in children who are molested and neglected as well.

The first and most important thing a school district can do is notify the parent. If the parent rejects the idea or is unwilling to see it for what it is, then school counselors need to get involved. It's not our job (speaking as a public school teacher) to parent these children, but sometimes we are the only ones who do!

Steadfast Ahoy! said...

great post...good questions.

RaD said...

Well I believe it sometimes comes from home. How do sibling treat each other? How do parents treat each other? How do parents treat children?

Sometimes it comes from not being stopped right away. I work at a small Christian school and have noticed that if you are not on top of the teasing right away, others will join in. Kids who don't want to look "uncool" will join in to please their friends. Any child is suseptible to start in, because it's easier to pick on someone else then to stand up for them.

Prevention starts at home. Talk to your kids about how they want to be treated often. Teach them to respect their teachers and adults in charge of them. To stand up for others. To tell their friends to stop picking on other kids and to walk away from them if necessary. It's hard. Hard to teach and hard for them to follow through. But if they are ever faced with the moment when they make the right decision they will be sooo proud of themselves and you can make a big fuss of them.

The other problem I see is kids who hang out with kids who pick on others. Sometimes they are friends with the person who is being picked on but just stand in the background and say nothing. Remind your child that saying nothing but still hanging out with the bully means you approve of the bully's behavior. The one being bullied may associate them as a bully because of this even though they did nothing. As the saying goes "guitly by association."

Whew! Sorry this is so long. Can you tell I've spent some time on this too? :)

Anonymous said...

There is too much out there on the internet, tv, video games, etc. that children have access to where it's funny and encouraged to be rude, disrespectful, and downright mean to others.
However, I would like to throw my 2 cents out there about bullying in the schools in general. In my humble opinion, bullying has lost it's definition. I know in my classroom, I have kids that complained they were being I look into it. Turns out, they just don't like that kid and the two don't get along. The kids know that if they make the allegation that they are being bullied, then there is a lot better chance that the "bully" will get in more trouble. In reality, both the "bullY" and the "victim" are engaging in the exact same behaviors. How do you fix that and stop the real bullies? Good question. Wow, I totally just went off on my own tangent.

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