School is almost back and that means bullying season is about to start up. Here are my top tips for Bully Proofing: 1. Advocate for a School Wide Anti-bullying Program Work with the home and school association, PTA and school administration to encourage them to adopt a school wide, multi-year anti-bullying program. Simply having a speaker come talk to parents and student won’t make a difference. You need a program, training and all parties working together systematically to change a bullying culture. Don’t sit idly by saying “my school doesn’t have a program” – pick up the torch and start one! If not you, then who? 2. Increase Volunteer Supervision Bullying behaviour happens out of the sight of adult supervision. Buses, back hallways, and the far ends of the play ground where the yard supervisor can’t see are hot spots. Organize parent volunteers to improve adult presence in your school community. I think every school bus should have supervision paid for by the school board, don’t you agree? How can we expect the driver to both drive and control a crowd of kids? It’s a ridiculous arrangement that has never been challenged as flying in the face of common sense. Don’t just complain about the bus – volunteer to ride bus and help. 3. Train Your Own Child Barbara Colorrosa gives an interesting statistic that only 1% of the population will bully, and only 1% will be victims of bullying. Interestingly, its the other 98% that actually are the one’s who can be the best change agents. Its tough to get a child to stop his bullying behaviour, and its difficult to train a victim to stand strong against an over powering threat, but it is easy peesy to teach 98% of the kids to change their actions from one of laughing along or ignoring the bullying scene they see taking place to one of speaking up and stepping in. Teaching the “bystanders” to say, “hey, dude, that is not cool” and sharing with them inspirational stories like the pink t-shirt campaign can help mobilize the masses to make the difference. 4. Take It Seriously Many parents are in denial when the school reports their child has been caught bullying. As hard as that is to hear, its best to have an open mind and work with the school. Set up a face to face meeting and explain that while you are shocked and in disbelief, you sure don’t believe in bullying and you do want to help eradicate it. If you suspect your child is being bullied ( and you should know the signs to look for since children often are ashamed and hide this from their parents) don’t diminish the issue as bring a normal part of childhood. Teasing is, bullying is not. Bullying is a form or violence and torture that has long term psychologically damaging effects. If a child is being bullied, and you can’t get the situation immediately remedied, I recommend switching schools. No child should ever be sent to school by their parents into a knowingly torturous environment. 5. Help The Bully Too
Children who bully have usually been the recipient of bullying, most often by parents at home. These children are also victims of bad circumstances and have hurts of their own. Yes, we have to deal directly with the behaviour, but by reaching out to those children and by giving them some other way to gain social status in the school, we can potential prevent a child become so disenfranchised that they drop out and find a feeling of belonging through gangs or greed. Once labeled these children get treated differently. Try acting warm and smiling to them in the hallway. Get to know them and take an interest in them personally. Perhaps this child could use his musical talents to organize a “ battle of bands” at school, or artistic talents to be part of the set design for the school play. You are not rewarding the person who is bullying, but rather, helping them finding significance and belonging through more constructive means.