I would like to continue to share information about bullying with our community. But before I do, I would like to clear up an editing issue from last week’s article. In last week’s article, due to my own oversight in editing, I overlooked a statement that said, “Trimble County Schools” instead of Marshall County schools.
All of these articles (a series of three) were created by me based upon my own experiences, my personal and professional beliefs, and my educational philosophy, therefore, the message is a part of me and follows me wherever I go as an intentional focus that I will communicate as an educational leader. I have used and reused these articles multiple times as the message has always been and continues to be a very important message.
One of the key characteristics I have shared as being extremely important for all of us, but especially a leader, is humility. As a leader it is important to model humility. That means when you make a mistake, and I do from time to time, you accept responsibility for it. I hope that my oversight in editing does not take away from the importance of the message. There is no community anywhere that does not have daily examples of bullying.
In today’s society and with social media assisting, we have lost the knowledge of be civil to each other. Those who do not agree with us must be attacked in some way. This is a national issue, but in every small community it creates the opportunity for bullying to exist.
We all know the forms bullying can take: pushing, shoving, tripping, kicking, hitting, slapping, name-calling, put downs, intimidation, threats, teasing, spreading rumors, racist, sexist remarks, stealing or breaking someone’s things, etc. When these things are occurring, a child does not necessarily come forth and let us, (adults), know. As adults we must be aware of some of the warning signs of bullying in order to intervene as fast as possible. Dr. Allan Beane, referenced in last week’s article, has compiled a useful list of warning signs that bullying is taking place:
• Loses interest in school, refuses to go
• Wants to take a different route to school
• Seems happy on weekends but not weekdays
• Suddenly prefers adult company
• Has frequent illness, nightmares, or insomnia
• Comes home with unexplained scratches, bruises, or damaged clothing
• Seems withdrawn, anxious, or fearful---won’t say what is wrong
• Sudden behavior changes (bed-wetting, tics, loss of appetite, stuttering
• Wants to carry “protection”
• Has few or no friends; rarely invited to social events
• Starts bullying others, is aggressive, rebellious, unreasonable
• Sudden interest in violent movies, video games
• Talks about being picked on or avoiding certain areas of school
• Talks about running away or committing suicide
If you determine that your child is being bullied, you must remain calm. Overreacting is just what your child expects from any adult and is the reason why they don’t always tell you. Act in a way that builds confidence in your ability to handle the situation. Find out what has happened, who, what, when, where. Believe your child. When you have gathered enough information contact the appropriate school official and share what you have found.
Moving forward work to help your child become “bully proof.” This comes through teaching them skills for making and keeping friends. As stated last week, resolving issues of bullying takes time. They do not get resolved overnight. They also require a team of adults (educators and parents) working together cooperatively to resolve the issue.
Things not to do include promising to keep what your child tells you a secret, calling the bully’s parents, encouraging your child to fight back, and most importantly blaming your child for being bullied. These efforts nearly always fail to resolve the issue and usually make it worse. Bullying occurs everywhere, even for adults. Learning to deal with it and teaching our children to deal with it effectively is essential. To think that we can turn off a switch to make bullying go away is unrealistic, thinking we can make bullies disappear from school or other places is unrealistic. We must educate!
All of this information comes from Dr. Allan Beane’s materials. You can learn more about Dr. Beane at www.bullfree.com.