Nine ways to eliminate bullying
Teaching children to speak to an adult about bullying is one of many suggestions from our readers on how to deal with a bully.
By GreatSchools Staff
Teach children to speak up immediately:
A mother from Alabama writes: "Our daughter attends a local public school. We had a difficult time with bullies in first grade late last year. The majority of the problem was with two kids terrorizing or ganging up together (a brother and sister) against our 6-year-old on the bus. It started with one of them grabbing her lunch bag and literally helping themselves to whatever they felt like taking from our daughter, whether it was her lunch, snacks, drinks, milk money, etc. Our daughter would not speak up or tell me at all. It went on for a while until she became physically ill and a nurse called me from school. We went outside and talked and I immediately went back to her classroom and talked to her teacher, the boy's teacher, the nurses and then the principal. She handled it immediately by calling the parents while we were in the office. The children went to the time-out room, and I requested my daughter's bus seat be changed and moved closer to the driver. This worked, combined with telling my daughter over and over how wrong it was and that she needed to speak up and tell someone immediately.
"Some advice to other parents: A. Take the time and talk to your kids every day and ask how their day goes and really pay attention. I had no clue until my daughter complained of stomach aches and started requesting I drive her to school. It was very unlike her. B. Don't approach the bullies yourself or get on the bus. Let the school reach out to the parents and go from there. This is the first thing that I learned besides teaching myself to breathe properly again. Do talk to and inform your child's teacher, the nurses and the bullies' teacher. C. Do coach your kids how wrong it is to be picked on and that they aren't doing anything wrong by seeking out their teacher, a counselor, the principal and/or you. They need to understand they are the victim, they are not tattling or being the 'trouble maker' as our daughter thought. D. I bought some books on bullying and donated two copies to the school. I bought extras for us and we read them frequently at home. I also believe that kids have to be taught how to talk nice and be a friend.
"What our school is doing: We have a new principal this year. The school has mini-seminars about bullying, respect, etc. for the kids. But this year our school made up a contract between the school and the students, for each and every student to read and sign. The parents have to read and sign it as well and return it to the schools office. It has a lot of points and good information, but in general, the contract states good behavior will be expected and demanded at all times during the school day. It talks about respect towards the school, the teacher and classmates. The kids must keep their hands and feet to themselves at all times. It talks about misbehavior on a bus may lead to punishment, including suspension and expulsion from school. We have a list of the bus rules. The school's policy handbook was very thick this year and informative. Also, what goes hand-in-hand are the school's motto: "The three R's = respectful, responsible and resourceful." The motto and definitions are on a form and all of the kids had to sign this form and return it to school."
Don't be blind to signs that your child might be being bullied:
The Illinois mother of a seventh-grade boy writes, "I am currently involved in stopping bullying behaviors that are directed at my son. Last year, in his 6th grade year, he was being bullied and I did not know. He had constant headaches, wanted to stay home often, did not want to walk home from school (6 blocks away) and I did not put the scenario together. I took him to the doctor for headaches and thought he just did not want to walk home. When I discovered this year that he was being bullied last year, I was hurt. I felt like I was not a good parent and that my husband should have caught the signs. This year I am not the same mother. There is a bullying prevention program called Olweus that the school has adopted. But no matter how great the program, the child must be willing to tell. Children have a code of silence that is developed through fear and not wanting to tattle. My son is telling me what is going on this time and I have him report it to the teacher. I follow that conversation up because some teachers will drop the ball. I have the assistant principal involved and if it is not resolved immediately, I will involve the principal and then the legal system (press charges) if needed. Our children should not be victimized at school. Schools must have a safe, nurturing, educational environment. Sometimes I wonder at outbreaks of violence in schools around the country and what could have happened differently if the parents were more involved in their children's lives, not only at home, but in school also. How do you stop a bully? It has to be a joint collaboration between parents and the school."