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Child Safety: Advice for Parents and Teachers

Teach your child how to respond to bullies, what can you do if your child is a bully, and learn ways you can help stop the cycle of violence.

Recent statistics show that:

  • 1 out of 4 kids is Bullied.
  • 1 out of 5 kids admits to being a bully, or doing some "Bullying."
  • 8% of students miss 1 day of class per month for fear of Bullies.
  • 43% fear harassment in the bathroom at school.
  • 100,000 students carry a gun to school.
  • 28% of youths who carry weapons have witnessed violence at home.
  • A poll of teens ages 12-17 proved that they think violence increased at their schools.
  • 282,000 students are physically attacked in secondary schools each month.
  • More youth violence occurs on school grounds as opposed to on the way to school.
  • 80% of the time, an argument with a bully will end up in a physical fight.

Are certain children more likely to be bullied?:
Victims are usually loners. Children who appear to be friendless can be magnets for bullies. Many times it's how kids carry themselves. The bullies pick up on that. They also might pick on children who are different - mental or physical handicaps. Girls in clicks will pick on you simply because you don't wear your hair or clothes they way they see fit to be cool. (Insults, Gossip, Rejection) Sometimes there is "no reason" why a bully picks a certain kid to pick on. But, the bullying leaves the victims believing there is something wrong with themselves. The result: More self-esteem has been shattered. Everyone has been bullied to some degree, whether mentally or physically.

Should the school contact the bully's parents?:
The school should first try to settle the matter since it occurred on their grounds while the children were their responsibility. But, unfortunately there are some schools who don't want to get involved outside of teaching the children. Many parents have written to me about school's/administrators who simply disregarded their bully incidents. Many parents are now seeking legal action.

On the other side - there are teachers/schools who contact the parents to address the problem, but the parents are in denial that their child could ever be a "bully," they don't believe it, and point a finger at the teacher accusing him/her of picking on their child.

What can schools do to help stop bullies and violence?:
It's all about talking it out: Child to Child (Peer Mediation), Teacher to Parent (PTO's, PTA's), Teacher to Teacher (in service days), Parent to Child (at home). There should be town meetings involving the parents, students, and entire school faculty to discuss Conflict Resolution. The teachers should also allow the students to give "their" ideas on how they would like situations handled. For younger students, role playing of "victims" and "bullies" in the classroom will help them understand the cause and effect - how it feels. Another idea for younger kids getting picked on could be to have an older student assigned as a type of mentor that he could talk to, and who would step in to settle a conflict or dispute. Groups have also been created where victims and their parents can meet with other victims and discuss solutions. It's comforting to know you're not alone, and friendships can be made there.

Let kids know it's OK to talk about problems; that parents and teachers are willing to listen, and eager to help. Also, if your kids/students are "bystanders" to their friends, or other kids being bullied, tell them how important it is for them to help these kids by reporting it. If they are afraid, they can use an anonymous tip, or tell the teachers not to use their name when confronting the bully.

The anonymous tip was only suggested for those victims who feared revenge from the bully in the form of physical abuse for their "snitching." Yes, in many cases the name of the victim would have to be given in order for the conflict to be directly approached. A bully being accused of attacking a "nameless" child might try to talk his way out of it. But if a name is used in relating to a particular incident with a specific child, and if there was proof, or witnesses, it's harder to deny.

Advice for parents of both victims and bullies:
Parents really need to get more involved in their children's lives. That way they will be more sensitive to problems occurring. Promote honesty. Ask questions. Listen with an open mind and focus on understanding. Allow children to express how they feel, and treat a child's feelings with respect. Set a good example by showing them a healthy temperament. Settle conflicts by talking things out peacefully. Congratulate or reward them when you see them using these positive skills to settle a difference. Teach them to identify "the problem", and focus on the problem, "not" attacking "the person." Tell them conflicts are a way of life, but violence doesn't have to be. And finally, teaching them to take responsibility for their own actions will make for a healthier child, a healthier self-esteem, and there will be no need for any "bullies" or "victims" in the world.

What can you do about the "BUS BULLIES"?:
There are many different things that could be tried in this situation. Ideas for what your kids can do include three options: *confront, *ignore, and *avoid. They should be used in that order except if the bullies are physically violent, then "avoid" is the only choice.

There are many things he could say back to them.

  • "Name calling isn't cool"
  • "I don't want to fight. Can't we be friends instead?"
  • "Why are you mad at me? I never hurt you."

Bullies usually like the effect they get when they shock or hurt someone. Maybe if your child just laughed it off, like they are joking, they would get tired of calling him names and it wouldn't seem fun (or effective) anymore.

If it keeps up, and nothing your son says helps, and ignoring and avoiding don't work AND the school won't get involved, then you will have to contact the parents of the "name callers."

Bullies don't always have a reason for who they pick on or why, but when they *do* have a reason, it usually results in them singling out a smaller person. This would include kids who are not as tall, and most definitely would include younger kids, who obviously would be smaller. This makes you easier to control. And today there are a lot of cases of older kids picking on younger kids on the school buses. In those cases, I recommend sitting far away from the bully. If the seats are assigned, ask to have them changed. If that doesn't work, inform the school and ask the bus driver to get involved. Some bus drivers are asked by the school to intervene. They do this by having the trouble kids sit up front where they can keep a good eye on them in the mirror. However, the bus driver has a job to do which requires the safety of many lives, so if the bullying gets so bad that he/she has to keep turning around or yelling at kids all the time, the perpetrators should be suspended from the bus for the safety of all.

What you can do:
If you'd like to teach your child the skills he/she needs to handle bullies and maintain a healthy self-esteem, order a copy of "Taking the Bully by the Horns" by Kathy Noll & Dr. Carter through's secure server!

| Violence & Bullies | Child Safety Main | Bully Advice for Kids |

Copyright Kathy Noll & Dr. Jay Carter, Authors of "Taking the Bully by the Horns". Reprinted with permission.

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