Archive for the ‘bullying’ Category

Parents Give School an “F” in Bully Policy

Friday, April 18th, 2014

School administrators in Lincoln, Nebraska are scrambling to do damage control after students were sent home with a list of instructions on how deal with bullying. And they should be, because whoever is responsible for authoring and dispensing this list to children is, at best, dangerously ignorant of what bullying is. At worst, they are fostering an atmosphere of violence and fear which can have lasting, harmful effects.

We have learned much about bullying in the past several years. It has been recognized, not as a rite of passage that children need to go through to “toughen up,” or as normal “kids will be kids” behavior to be tolerated… but as a deviant, defiant, criminal activity. ‘Think that sounds a bit dramatic? Think again: bullies are predators in training. When they engage in this activity, they follow a criminal mindset–seeking out targets, zeroing in on them, and moving in for the kill. If allowed to continue unchecked, their actions typically escalate in severity and number of victims. By the time school bullies reach adulthood, many have graduated into full-fledged criminal activity.

There are over 2 million bullies right now in our schools. Nearly 3 million students are threatened or injured with guns, knives, or other weapons, physically assaulted, verbally abused, and/or have personal property stolen, damaged, or destroyed by bullies.

Schools and community organizations are still struggling to find the best ways to handle bullying. But thankfully, it is now understood that aiding and supporting the victims is of equal, if not greater, importance. So, you can imagine the outrage of so many parents of 5th graders at Zeman Elementary School in Lincoln, Nebraska, when their children brought home a flier stating that, if they are targeted by such predators-in-training, they should, among other things,

  1. not verbally defend themselves (“The bully is our friend. We defend ourselves against enemies.”)
  2. not to feel fear, even if the bully is verbally harassing or physically threatening or assaulting them (“Fear is something we feel toward enemies, not buddies.”)
  3. not to physically defend themselves (“We attack enemies, not friends.”)
  4. show they are physically wounded, but not angry because (“We want the bully to feel sorry for us and apologize. If we’re angry, he won’t feel sorry for us and apologize.”)
  5. not to “tell” on the bully (“Would we keep our friends if we tattled on them?”)

As a radKIDS Instructor, a teacher, an adult, and a human being, this entire list of “guidelines” makes me angry. All this talk about “friends” and “enemies” is ridiculous. Telling a child how they should feel is wrong. Comparing a child’s reporting an incident of bullying to “tattling” is wrong. And taking away their right to defend themselves from harm is gutting.

Whoever compiled this list of nonsense clearly has no understanding of bullying. Fortunately, parents of Zeman Elementary’s 5th graders are on top of the issue, and have called BS on the flier and its directives. Now the school itself needs to step forward and right the wrongs.

Punish Bullies AND Their Enablers

Monday, March 29th, 2010

Nine teenagers have been charged in the death of a 15-year-old girl in Massachusetts. What are their crimes? Formally stated, they include assault, violation of civil rights resulting in injury, criminal harassment, stalking, disturbing a school assembly, and delinquency. In plainer words… bullying.

These students of South Hadley High School took it upon themselves to continuously and enthusiastically torment their classmate, Phoebe Prince, over a period of months. The constant barrage of verbal, physical, and cyber-bullying destroyed Prince bit by bit. Desperate for an end to their incessant cruelty, she escaped the only way she could. Her little sister found her body hanging in the stairwell of their home.

Bullying is about power, about gaining and maintaining dominance over someone through the use of terror tactics. It’s vicious, undeserved, and inexcusable. And in Northampton, Mass., that power struggle is beginning to be set right.

Bullying tears at the heart, the spirit, piece by piece. If left unstopped, it can lead to the annihilation of the one targeted. And in this case, even that wasn’t enough to stop the bullying. On the day they learned of Phoebe’s death, how did her tormentors react? They left sarcastic comments on her Facebook page.

And what about the teachers and staff of that school? The District Attorney in the case says that, during the investigation, it became horribly clear that many adults working in the school were aware of the pain and humiliation dished out daily to Phoebe by her classmates. And they did nothing to stop it.

This, to me, is an even worse crime than those committed by the students. There is no excuse for standing by and allowing an innocent child to be hurt. None. Surely, this school has safety procedures in place, precautions taken so that a stranger cannot barge in during the day, wielding an axe and threatening harm to their students. It is, after all, their job not just to teach, but to provide a safe environment in which all the students can learn. Why any of them would stand around and watch a group of bullies engage in such vile and destructive behavior, and choose to do nothing to stop it, discipline the perpetrators, or at least, protect the victim, is beyond me!

Those teachers and staff members who knew, but did nothing? They have her blood on their hands.

Bullies Leave Lasting Scars

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

Kids who were picked on while growing up become adults with health problems. A new study finds that former targets of school bullying experience anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, fatigue, muscle pain, and even increased likelihood of catching colds in far greater numbers than their non-bullied peers. Doctors have known for years that chronic stress is debilitating to one’s health. The results of this study lead them to conclude that, over time, the daily strain of enduring threats and taunts causes permanent damage to bullying victims’ bodies.

There have been many tragic stories in the news of children and teens who have ended their lives to escape the ongoing personal destruction inflicted on them by bullies. This has led to a realization on the part of parents, teachers, and school officials that bullying is not just part of growing up, and not something kids should simply “learn to deal with.” As radKIDS Executive Director Steve Daley explains, “Bullying is not ‘kids being kids.’ Bullies are predators; therefore, bullying must not be allowed to continue.”

So, what can we, as concerned parents, teachers, and child advocates, do to protect kids now–and for the rest of their lives? Well, we need to stop doing what has never worked, which is telling victims to stand up to the bullies, to fight back. If it were possible for them to do this, they wouldn’t be getting picked on in the first place.

Bullies choose their targets through a complex process, winnowing out those who would readily defend themselves verbally and/or physically. They zero in on kids who, by their very nature, will not stand up for themselves. Bullies determine who they can hurt, and when and where they can get away with it. Therefore, advising victims to fight for themselves is as ineffective as telling them to ignore a slap in the face; it’s useless because they simply cannot do it.

What can they do? The most effective way to stop bullying seems to be to increase the targets’ self-confidence. That’s where we, the caring adults in their lives, come in. Child behavior experts have found that the fastest way to improve kids’ belief in themselves is for them to get good at something they’re interested in, be it running track, acting in the school play, joining the math club, or exploring some other area that excites them. Joining these activities not only helps them develop a new facet of themselves, but it brings them into the company of other, like-minded kids. Thus, a support network is formed.

Also, in our efforts to rebuild what bullies have broken down, we must attend to kids’ damaged self-esteem. We need to tell them, over and over again if necessary, that they are not to blame for the bullying; they have done nothing wrong. As kids become more self-assured and understand that they did nothing to invite abuse, they become less-satisfying targets. Eventually, bullies must seek a new target or modify their own behavior.

No Bullies Allowed

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

Behavior in elementary schools across the nation underscores the point that bullying has become rampant. Humiliation, taunting, and physical abuse can leave lifelong emotional scars that affect the rest of a victim’s life.

radKIDS is about safety and self-defense for children. And bullying is one of the areas we cover–a very important area, if you ask kids in grades 3 and higher. Research agrees: up to 75% of students report being bullied during their school years; over 10,000 stay home from school at least once a month out of fear of bullies. And this fear is not unfounded. A recent report reveals that over 66% of attackers in school shootings were victims of longstanding, severe harassment and bullying.

The old thinking that “kids will be kids,” or that “it’s just part of growing up” is erroneous–not to mention harmful. If a child is bullied, it is important for the protection and/or restoration of their own self-esteem that they stand up for themselves. There are ways to do this that do not put the bullied child in further danger.

The idea of “ignoring the bully and he’ll stop”  is no longer taught. (Thank goodness, because as many can attest to, not only doesn’t it work, but it often makes the situation worse.) Studies have shown that bullies are not kids with low self-esteem who just want attention. They are predators and their behavior must not be allowed to continue.

Defending themselves allows the targets of bullying to know that they have worth, that they don’t deserve to be teased, mocked, or hit, and that the problem is the bully’s behavior, not themselves.

As a parent, you may need to meet with your child’s teacher and/or principal. With so many other children on their radar screen, they may simply not be aware of the problem. Make them aware. And let them know you expect the situation to be resolved immediately. Your child has a right to be safe at school. You have a responsibility to insure that he is.