As parents one of the first things we should do is check our own behavior. Are we modeling aggression? How do we show our kids and or tell them how to handle conflict?Talk to your kids early and long before anything ever happens. Discuss bullying and what healthy relationships with respect look like.Recognize that it is not just about conflict. There is power element to bullying. Conflict is where both kids have equal power. Bullying is abuse. In addition, bullies get positive outcomes from mean behavior- such as pleasure, feelings of power and positive confirmation from their friends i.e. popularity although they are disliked
Bullies usually suffer from social emotional problems but NOT that they feel bad about themselves. They are not socially rejected and the bullying is more of a peer socialization process. We should help them learn to take responsibility for negative actions. Peer influence is crucial. If your group of friends says that pushing and shoving or spitting is OK or spreading lies is OK, even if the student knows better, they will go along with the group. Bullies tend to have more friends. Children who have a social anxiety disorder may exhibit aggressive behavior. They also have a lower quality of life and they may just be trying to cope. They may intentionally take risks, pick fights and use drugs to elevate their social status or alleviate anxiety. They end up with a brief sense of peer control and status which eventually leads to anxiety and depression. Consider games (violent and with foul language), TV shows, avatar games and other programs that display antisocial behavior as normal. These games and programs also support cyber-bullying actions as they provide anonymity. And, they are not usually a one-time communication.
Develop confidence in your child:
- Spend family time together
- Encourage positive relationships with adults outside the immediate family (teachers, grandparents, aunts and uncles when students have positive connections they are more resilient)
- Encourage active participation in hobbies and interests that focus on concentration, learning and joy to counteract negative peer behavior
- Encourage service to others so they feel they make a positive difference in other people’s lives. This helps them to have a high level of self esteem and provides them with the strength to deal with mean or excluding behavior
- Discuss with your child the fact that some people will just do bad things and it is not their fault or anything that they did
- Help them to develop strong problem solving and conflict resolution skills. Role play where they have a problem and they need to come up with three or more ways of resolving it.
- Let them know that it is ok to ask for help and it is not a sign of weakness. It is more someone who is strong and confident who asks for help when he or she needs it.
- Help them to learn to walk with confidence which will in turn make it less likely for them to be selected as a victim
- Show them and role play how to not tolerate being mistreated and confidently ask the person to stop it
What is bullying? The repeated use by one or more students of a written,verbal or electronic expression or a physical act or gesture or a combination there of directed at a victim that causes physical or emotional harm to the victim or damage to the victim’s property. It places the victim in a reasonable fear of harm to himself or to damage of his/her property. It creates a hostile environment in the school for the victim, infringes on his/her rights or materially and substantially disrupts the education process or orderly operation of a school.
What is cyber-bullying? Bullying with the use of technology:
- Instant messaging (IMS) or texting
- Stealing passwords and getting into a persons email or
- Facebook and putting things there that would make the
- sender look bad or directly offends someone else (and may actually put the victim in danger)
- Web Sites
- Sending Pictures
- Internet Polling (Does everyone agree that Victim is a jerk or is...)
- Games that include the victim being slandered or made to look bad in some way
- Sending malicious code to them in email or other format
- Sending porn and other junk email or IMS
- Ignoring or excluding someone who used to be part of a group
- Transfer of signs, signals, writing, sounds, data that are threatening or are done to humiliate or intimidate or retaliate
Schools are not able to discipline a student for bullying or cyber-bullying if the actions are taken off of the school premises or outside of school hours under the current laws. Those that have are being criticized that they are exceeding their authority and violating the students’ free speech rights.
There is no federal law yet, but, a bill has been introduced which would include a fine and 2 years in prison if found guilty. There is a first amendment right controversy about this at this time. Schools can effectively work with parents to stop/prevent and remedy cyber-bullying or other bullying situations. They can:
- Educate the students on ethics, cyber ethics and the law
- Have a school’s acceptable use policy reserving the right to discipline a student for actions (bullying) taken off school premises and outside of school hours if the actions negatively affect the safety and well being of a student while in school (basically a contract)
- Provide social emotional learning programs
- Provide curricula, discipline policies
- Provide conflict resolution and anti-bias education
- Educational Sessions for Parents, Teachers and Students
- Posters to be posted throughout the school
- T-shirts with 2tough2bullyTM logo and/or t-shirt design competition winning design
- Wristbands displaying the 2tough2bullyTM logo
- What to do About Bullying booklet
- Collaboration with school personnel (teachers, counselors, social workers, etc.) to provide avenues for getting help to students dealing with bullying situations.
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