What you can do to stop bullying
Bullying is a serious problem with long-lasting effects that can be the root cause of criminal behavior, academic failure, and lack of self-esteem later in life.
By GreatSchools Staff
When a California teacher caught a class bully in the act of punching another student, she immediately sent the bully to the principal's office. The bully's punishment was a one-day suspension which he spent sitting in the school office, where other students could see him. The student learned his lesson and never bullied again, and the bully's victim learned that his school was a safe place where bullying and violence would not be tolerated.
The best way to combat bullying, says the mother whose child was the victim of this bully, is having a school community where the message is clear: Bullying simply is not tolerated.
Teachers, students and administrators are all very aware of the policy. If an incident occurs, the teachers respond immediately. The students know that the behavior is unacceptable, that there are trusted adults they can confide in and that there will be consequences.
Debra Chasnoff, a San Francisco-based filmmaker who has produced a video for schools in which bullies and the bullied tell their stories, advocates a kinder, gentler approach. "Just focusing on tough discipline isn't enough. Schools should place a priority on building community. Teachers who can get kids to know and trust each other, to empathize with each other, will have fewer problems in the classroom and on the playground. You are less likely to turn on someone you know as a fellow human being."
What are the signs that my child is being bullied?
- Torn clothing
- A loss of appetite
- Lack of desire to go to school
- Mood changes
What are the signs that my child is a bully?
- Impulsive behavior
- A desire to always be in control
- Showing little or no empathy for others
What are the long-term effects of bullying?
Melissa Smith, a California mother, recounts what can happen when bullying is not stopped. Her son was the victim of a gang of five elementary school bullies who continually verbally abused him. For four months her son tried to ignore them and always walked away. Finally, the gang left him alone. But her son continues to suffer from a lack of self-esteem, has had trouble making friends, and years after the bullying incident, is now in counseling.
Bullying, commonly thought to be a problem for boys, is just as prevalent among girls. It often takes the form of intentional verbal abuse or malicious gossip by several girls ganging up on one girl. Jessica, an overweight sixth grader in Canada, recounts the torment of being continually teased by three girls she previously considered her best friends: "How many times do you feel so bad that you want to change schools, leave all the actual friends that you do have or just lock yourself in a room forever?" she asks as she recounts her story of being bullied.