- Bullying peaks in late childhood/early adolescence (around the 7th grade).
- Main characteristic of bullying is control over another: Physical, verbal, relational, reactive (verbal bullying being the most prevalent).
- Students in grades 7-12 often mistakenly believe that victims bring on bullying, and view bullies as more popular than victims. When witnessing bullying, other students (not the victim) see bullying as “teasing” with no malicious intent, which reflects another studies findings that developing empathy is a key component in skill development to reduce bullying.
- Factors that are positively correlated to bullying include: fighting, alcohol use, ability to make friends, poor academic achievement, and perceived school climate of acceptance. Depression, in both bullies and victims, is also found to be more common than in other students. (source: Middle School Journal: “Bullying in the Middle Schools: Prevention and Intervention.” January, 2006, Vol. 37, Pages 12-19).
The bottom line is this: kids can’t learn if they don’t feel safe.What we are able to conclude after reviewing successful programs and analyzing the research is that addressing a bullying issue effectively in schools requires formative consequences (providing support for students to learn the skills that they are lacking as well as accountability.)
Effective programs in schools appear to have these components:
What doesn’t work? While bullying should not be tolerated in a school, “zero-tolerance policies” tend to reduce reporting by students because they perceive the consequences to be punitive and do not want to get anyone “in trouble” as well as fear retaliation.
- They are comprehensive and include: administrators, teachers, students, parents, and the community in the development, implementation, and commitment to ongoing involvement
- They provide:
clear understanding among everyone about rights and responsibilities students, teachers, administrators and parents have to maintain a positive school climate,
communication and commitment to policies and procedures regarding bullying,
strategies to build skills, respond to bulling, support the victim, communicate effectively to parents, and build a culture that fosters positive leadership among students.
monitoring and support to maintain effectiveness of the program.
Conflict resolution in ineffective in these situations because bullying doesn’t have equal participants. Conflict resolution works when there is a perception of equal power among participants.
There are three “participants” in a bullying situation. Bullies, Bystanders, and Victims. It is important to understand and have the tools to work with all three.“Bystanders”: Someone who sees bullying occur has a choice, to act or do nothing. It is important to understand that if someone does nothing, they are going to be seen as agreeing with the bully about the behavior, both by the bully and the victim. Here are some ways you can help:
- Notice: Exclusion/Isolation, Tension, “Teasing” and Put-downs, Harassment or Unwanted Physical Contact
- Think: “What’s going on?”, “Who is involved? (And what is my relationship to them), “Who is around? How could I exit?” “How do I feel?” “What are my options?”
- Act: Reach out and befriend isolated or bullied students. Help them connect. Intervene to let peers know that it isn’t ok to hurt or exclude. Shift norms to understanding and respect. Obtain adult support. Refer a peer to resources such as a teacher, counselor, or administrator.
- Follow through: Monitor situation to ensure things don’t flare up again. Check in on students you’ve helped to see how they are doing.
(Source: Safe School Ambassadors program)
The following is a Bullying Checklist to help you identify behaviors that are bullying behaviors:
- Shove, Punch, or any physical actions that attempt to hurt, intimidate, or get back at someone.
- Have someone else hurt someone you don’t like.
- Gossip (say negative things about someone else) to others either in the person’s presence or through texting, phone, notes, or internet.
- Keep one or more kids from hanging around you, joining an activity or group.
- Tease using put-downs or name-calling; make fun of appearance or the way someone acts, either in person or on text, phone, or internet.
- Be silent while others do these things, even if you only want to be part of the crowd.
If you have been victimized by bullying:
If you have been bullied, it is not your fault. If you can learn to respond to bullying, you no longer have to feel helpless. There are things you can do that will create a greater sense of control and help you feel better. Kids that demonstrate confidence are less likely to get bullied, and the following things can help you feel more confident.
You can find more ideas to deal with these situations on www.stopbullyingnow.hrsa.gov
Tell an adult (teacher, counselor, principal, dean, health aid, janitor, parent). Bullies often won’t stop until others are involved.
- Stay in a group
- Join clubs; take part in activities where you will meet other kids
- Don’t react or seek revenge. It will only make it worse! Bullies like to see that they have power to get you upset.
- If you are being bullied on the internet or other electronic devise. Stop, Block, and Tell. Stop means: Don’t acknowledge that you even received the message.
- Block means: Block that person’s electronic access to you,
- Tell means: Save and print a copy of the message and give it to a school counselor or other trusted adult to help deal with the situation and stop the bullying.
- Don’t avoid the situation, because you will only feel more and more helpless over time.
For parents of children affected by bullying: Don’t overreact to a negative situation. This reduces disclosure by kids. Don’t call the police unless there is a threat of violence or other harm. Don’t call the other child’s parent as a first response because it could intensify the bullying. Take 5.
Talk to your child. Say, “I’m sorry this has happened. It must really hurt.” Help your child to connect with other resources, to be involved in groups, clubs, sports, or other positive connections with other kids. Let your child’s school counselor, teacher, or administrator know of the situation. Find out how your child intends to respond to the situation. Encourage him/her to not react or retaliate. Help your child to see his/her strengths and value. If a child is thinking of harming him/herself, consult a mental health professional or school counselor immediately.Google your child’s name, address, cell number, and screen names to see if there is personal information or comments posted about them.
Set an alert that will notify you via e-mail whenever key terms appear on the internet. You can do this by going to www.google.com/alert and follow the instructions. Type: “set an alert” into the search field, then proceed.Provide support to help your child build skills in making friends, being assertive, problem-solving, and building confidence and emotional control.
For Parents of children that are bullying:
Work together with the school to discuss your child’s bullying behaviors, and to build strategies to help your child develop skills that will replace the behaviors with ones that are more appropriate.Help your child to build a sense of competency and value. Many kids that bully lack a sense of power. Providing them with ways to feel good about making positive choices will help them to gain confidence. Despite kid’s protests, they also feel relieved to know where your “lines” are, regarding their negative behavior. Strengthening your boundaries about their negative behavior, done in a firm but informative way, is a great way to help your child be more successful. Follow through with discipline. Parents are more effective when they don’t overreact emotionally but are consistent in following through with consequences.
Build connections in the community and at school to provide support in building positive leadership.Build empathy in your child by helping them to identify their own feelings and to identify the feelings of others and how to respond to them effectively. Once you have addressed a feeling a child is having, you will, then, more effectively be able to “get through to them” regarding their behaviors.
Explore what other things might be going on for your child that may underlie the bullying behavior. Utilize counseling services available in your community to provide support for you and your child.
Tips for Teachers in Dealing with Bullying:
Sample Formative Consequences:
- Meet with child who is bullying and parents, as well as the person being bullied and parents to review bullying problem and solutions.
- Try to get to the heart of why a child is behaving aggressively.
- Identify both children’s strengths and involve them in activities that will help build skills and create confidence.
- Build empathy in your classroom. Identify the importance of this skill.
- Create opportunities for positive leadership, and work on these skills.
- Connect children and their parents with community services to support your goals.
- Follow-up with both children and their families to make sure your intervention is successful.
Goals in meeting with a victimized child:
- Make amends that benefit the victim.
- Create activities that promote empathy (writing, drama, role playing, reading)
- Have the bullying child identify his/her own strengths as well as the strengths of the person victimize.
- Observe acts of kindness around the school and community.
- Encourage the bullying child to identify the link between kindness and power.
- Lead a class discussion on empathy, leadership, and friendship…
A Sample Anti-Bullying Pledge: can be found at http://clague2.aaps.k12.mi.us/adm/bully.html
- Protection and empowerment.
- Validation of feelings
- Skill building: Assertiveness, connection, friendship, and problem solving
- Ongoing support
Resources, Links and Model Programs on Bullying:
These resources were used in the development of this article, and are helpful in broadening your understanding of bullying. Some of these are links for kids (marked with an asterisk*) to develop their skills in dealing with the issues of bullying in their lives.
*www.bullying.org This is an awesome site for on-line courses, bullying awareness week activities, PSA’s, poems, games, community solutions, multimedia submissions from kids, and anti-bullying pledge.
www.wiredsafety.org advertises itself to be “the world’s largest safety and help group”. It has a great deal of information for parents and educators regarding internet safety.
www.stopbullyingnow.hrsa.gov There are handouts that can be given to kids and parents as well as on-line games for kids to learn about bullying.
www.safeschoolambassadors.org This appears to be an impressive program that is comprehensive in providing training to students that have social influence to promote an environment that offers respect and tolerance of others, as well as training to teachers, administrators, and parents.
www.bullybusting.org This is a program that includes student created drama as a means of creating discussions about bullying.
www.stopbullyingnow.com is a resource that has articles regarding reducing aggressive behaviors. It is a resource for purchase of books, videos, and seminars.
www.edutopia.org/she-used-to-be-pretty This article discusses the important role of developing empathy in kids as a means of reducing bullying. Cyber bullying is discussed and an exercise that can be used with kids to help them understand on-line harassment.
www.google.com/alerts is a tool that provides e-mail updates based on your choice of query or topic. It can help you monitor the internet, based on your child’s name, cell phone number, or screen name for negative events, such as cyber-bullying. Be aware that you may get more information than you want (e.g.
www.melissainstitute.org/documents/MakingADifference.pdf This is a comprehensive academic paper addressing the dynamics of bullying and whole-school intervention. While lengthy (40 pages), and written in 2000, it is a terrific resource that could be foundational to a school’s approach to bullying and its interventions.
www.redorbit.com/modules/news/tools.php?tool=print&id=533804 offers tips for parents and kids in dealing with cyberbullying.