Posts Tagged ‘Bullies’

Tips for Parents of Bullied Children

April 7, 2013

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There are many parents out there struggling to know what to do to address the emotional wellbeing of their bullied children. They realise that it is often unhelpful to confront the bully’s parents and they certainly understand that confronting the bully is not acceptable. But what then do they do? They can’t just sit on their hands and hope the problem resolves itself. It’s just as likely to get worse as it is to go away.

So what can be done?

I like these tips from ncpc.org:

  • Talk to your child’s teacher about it instead of confronting the bully’s parents. If the teacher doesn’t act to stop the bullying, talk to the principal.
  • Teach your child nonviolent ways to deal with bullies, like walking away, playing with friends, or talking it out.
  • Help your child act with self-confidence. With him or her, practice walking upright, looking people in the eye, and speaking clearly.
  • Don’t encourage your child to fight. This could lead to him or her getting hurt, getting in trouble, and beginning more serious problems with the bully.
  • Involve your child in activities outside of school. This way he or she can make friends in a different social circle.

The last tip is a common one that doesn’t appeal to me. The child should not have to find a different social circle just because the one he/she is in is unforgiving and intolerant. It says little for the school if they can’t promote social opportunities for your child.

The key tip is to consult the classroom teacher. But do more than just relay your concerns. Ask how the teacher is going to monitor and deal with the situation and then make a meeting for a fortnights to debrief with the teacher about how they are activating their plan. This follow up meeting lets the teacher know that you will not settle for anything less than a quick and focused response.

 

Click on the link to read School Official’s Solution to Harassed Teen: Get a Breast Reduction

Click on the link to read Sickening Video of Girl Being Bullied for Having Ginger Hair

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The Fixation on Bus Monitor’s Donation Earnings is Extremely Disappointing

June 24, 2012

I can’t believe the rhetoric I have read about the money Karen Klein is earning from donations. So what? Generous people were so outraged by what they witnessed on that clip that they donated money. Get over it!

This story was never really about a bus monitor anyway. The. Klein case merely exemplified some very big bullying related issues – namely, the lack of respect many children have for adults, the lack of empathy for a person who is clearly being hurt, the influence of a group in regards to peer pressure and the passive behaviour from bystanders.

I am happy that Ms. Klein’s earnings mean she never has to step foot on that bus with those children again:

An elderly bus monitor who was taunted, picked on and threatened by a quartet of ruthless seventh-graders is likely going to retire on the $586,000 she has so far received in donations from concerned strangers who were outraged after viewing a video that captured her torment.

‘She is definitely surprised and overwhelmed and certainly thankful for everyone’s support, and it is nice knowing she is not alone,’ Karen Huff Klein’s daughter, Amanda Romig, told RadarOnline.com on Friday.

‘We never thought it was going to be that much, she didn’t think that much – then wow!’ Romig added, saying that her 68-year-old mother is not likely to return to work.

Click here on my post which discussed the need to punish the middle school children involved.

I hope the generous people who helped secure this donation together with the many other people who were shocked and angered by the clip, now focus their energies on ensuring that their children never treat people like those middle school children treated Ms. Klein.

Praise Your Children and then Watch them Bully

May 30, 2012

A new report dispels the long-held theory that bullies have low self-esteem. This report maintains that bullies often come as a result of being over-praised and over-complimented.

LAVISHING children with praise and constantly pumping up self-esteem is breeding a generation of bullies, groundbreaking research reveals.

Prof Helen McGrath from RMIT, a key player in Australia’s anti-bullying policies, says mums, dads and educators have spent too much time telling kids that “darling, everything you do is wonderful”.

Rather than giving children “trophies for coming seventh, eighth and ninth”, they instead need a good old-fashioned dose of reality – including in their school reports, she said.

“The silliest thing you can tell children is, ‘If you set your mind to it, you can do anything you want’,” Prof McGrath said.

Now the State Government has flagged a comprehensive discussion on teaching methods.

Education Minister Martin Dixon said last night: “What Prof McGrath’s research has shown makes good sense and is worthy of wider debate.

“While parents and teachers want to encourage their children and students to be the best they can be, it is also important that we are genuine. A measure of self-esteem is good, but a large dose of self-respect and respect for others is even better.”

Well-meaning parents and teachers had been unwittingly contributing to the problem for 30 years through the “failed self-esteem movement”, she said.

“Parents love their children and are trying really hard to keep their self-esteem high, not realising … they’ve made the mistake of assuming that means their child can never have any failures, disappointments, sadness,” she said.

“But if we’re getting kids who are increasing in their sense of narcissism, and the need to be entitled and always get positive feedback … that is a fairly dangerous way for our community to go.”

It is fascinating to read of the Government’s clumsy response to this findings. They want teachers to start being “genuine” with the2ir students. Great idea! Now why didn’t I think of that?

It is quite a simple interpretation to think that bullies are just often children with overfed egos. The mistake this report seems to make is that it assumes that children grow to believe the messages that these parents send. The assumption is that these kids grow up thinking they can achieve anything they want (whether they have natural ability or otherwise).

This is not my experience. My experience tells me that such children weigh up the compliments and positivity they get from home with some of the negative talk they get outside, and it confuses them. Children who are constantly told how beautiful they are at home, are then called “ugly” and “fat” in the schoolyard. This mixture of messages makes them feel terrible insecure. Are their parents liars? Are their school friends just being cruel, or do they have a point?

So indeed, I do believe such children have low self-esteem. The realisation that some of the messages being sent from home are not shared by the world outside doesn’t inflate their ego, but rather, confuses them and makes them less trustworthy of others.

The best depiction of a bully (or I should say, “bullies”) comes from Mike Feurstein’s classic movie “How to Unmake a Bully“. Instead of portraying the bully as a person that has no characteristics that other children can related to, Feurstein paints him as a lost child, bullied himself in the past, without a undesratnding of other options and modes for letting off steam.

The beauty about the film is that after watching it, my students gain an appreciation and a unserdtanding not only for the victim but also for the bully himself.

 

 

Let’s Teach 4-Year Olds How To Drive

December 20, 2011

Before you disagree with my proposal let me explain the rationale. At some point people need to know how to drive. We all want capable drivers on our roads, so what better time to teach them the intricacies of driving than when they are young.

Right?

Of course not.

Not only are 4-year olds too young to drive but they are also too young to learn other important life skills such as cyber safety. Why the Government expects kinder teachers to educate their young pupils on proper use of internet and the dangers of purchasing goods online beats me.

KINDERGARTENS will be urged to teach cyber safety to four-year-olds amid fears they could fall prey to online predators and bullies.

The Gillard Government will write to state education heads to encourage the take-up of cyber safety programs that teach children not to be mean online and keep their private information to themselves.

It comes amid revelations Victorian primary school children are “sexting” their friends and posting hate messages about their teachers on social networking sites.

A parliamentary committee report earlier this year recommended the Government consider the feasibility of helping deliver programs in preschools and kindergartens.

The Government yesterday accepted the recommendation in principle, but was waiting for a paper on cyber issues to be released in mid-2012 to give a detailed answer.

 In the meantime, it will encourage use of Australian Communication and Media Authority programs, including Cybersmart for Young Kids.

It features a bottlenose dolphin called Hector Protector and his friends teaching young children to keep “special information” private and tell mum or dad if they see anything scary or upsetting online.

It also encourages children to share passwords with their parents and to “be nice” to others.

And parents can download a “safety button” that children can click on to cover up anything upsetting they see online with a friendly picture.

Cyber safety expert Susan McLean said flexible, compulsory education should begin as soon as children switched on a computer, from kindergarten onwards.

“I’ve seen cyber bullying in grade 2. I’ve seen kids buying things on the internet at age seven after their parents have told them not to. That’s commonplace.”

Teaching kids skills too early is like not teaching them at all. I can’t see the value of making young children endure a program that will surely be too advanced for them and doesn’t relate to their present day lives.

Whats next? Teaching four-year olds how to work an electric drill?

The Motivation of a Bully

October 11, 2011

Recently I wrote about a cyberbully’s motivation.  The same can be true of a conventional bully:

It is my belief that cyber-bullying is often based on “dominance” and “popularity” rather than “hate”.  I don’t think most cyberbullies hate their victims.  Instead, I think they see them as stepping-stones to wider acceptance from their peer group.  Often the victims are minorities or outcasts.  The pressure to be in the “in group” has always been high.  For an “in group” to exist there needs to be a clearly defined “out group”.  It is often seen as a sort of right of passage for someone seeking popularity to kick the easy target.

This view seems to be backed up by a recent study conducted by CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360°”:

A new study commissioned by CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360°” found that the stereotype of the schoolyard bully preying on the weak doesn’t reflect reality in schools.

Instead, the research shows that many students are involved in “social combat” — a constant verbal, physical and cyber fight to the top of the school social hierarchy.

“Kids are caught up in patterns of cruelty and aggression that have to do with jockeying for status,” explains Robert Faris, a sociologist whom “Anderson Cooper 360°” partnered with for the pilot study. “It’s really not the kids that are psychologically troubled, who are on the margins or the fringes of the school’s social life. It’s the kids right in the middle, at the heart of things … often, typically highly, well-liked popular kids who are engaging in these behaviors.”

Faris, along with the co-author of the study, Diane Felmlee, also found that bullies, whom they call aggressors, and victims are not defined roles, but in many cases, they can be the same person. The higher students rise on the social ladder, the more they bully other students, and the more other students bully them.

“When kids increase in their status, on average, they tend to have a higher risk of victimization as well as a higher risk of becoming aggressive,” Faris says.

The study was conducted this spring at The Wheatley School, a nationally top-ranked high school on Long Island, New York. More than 700 students at the school were given a survey with 28 questions on aggressive behavior four separate times throughout the semester. They were also given a roster of the entire school in which every student had an identification number and kids were asked to write down specifically who did what.

This is part of the reason why I am so critical of the way bullies are handled at some schools.  So often the emphasis is on the actions of the bully and not on the social environment that encourages bullying behaviour in the first place.  That is why so much of  my energy is devoted to changing the social fabric of my class.

After all, bullying isn’t a priority – it is THE PRIORITY.  As a teacher, I am entrusted not with people’s money or belongings but with the most important and precious things they have – their children.  It is my responsibility to ensure that they are safe and secure.  Sure, I have to teach them and help them grow academically, but even more so, I have to do my best to make sure that the child they dropped off at my classroom is going to come back in as good if not better emotional shape than when they arrived.

When I speak to my class at the beginning of the year, I tell them there is a sure-fire way for them to have to repeat the year a second time.  It’s not if they find the work difficult or are struggling to pass assessments – it’s if they are not treating their classmates with respect.  Because if they are not ready to treat others with respect, they are not emotionally ready to go up a year level.

I’m not joking.  I really do mean it.

There is a lot of talk about ‘child centered learning’ vs ‘teacher centered learning’.  I prescribe to neither.  Instead, I believe in what I call “class centred learning”.  The main focus of my teaching is that everyone in the class must respect each other.  It is the fundamental rule for assessing my own performance.  They don’t have to be best of friends, but they absolutely must respect each other.  And ultimately, it is my duty to empower the class and create an environment of closeness and mutual respect.

Does it mean that there is no bullying in my classroom?  Absolutely not.  I wish.  I’m only an ordinary teacher.  What it means is, I take more interest in the welfare of my class than any other consideration.

On the topic of bullying, I again strongly recommend (not for the last time) this most brilliant anti-bullying film developed by young students in their own free time.  It is the best of its kind by a long, long way!

 


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