This past weekend I had the opportunity to speak at a bully prevention conference for elementary and middle school students. After my program a young man walked up to me and explained how he had been bullied and was able to put an end to it. I asked if he reported the bullying and he said, “I reported it several times to the teacher and the principal and nobody did anything. The kid kept on hitting me, pushing me down and taking my backpack every day.” I asked the young man how he put an end to the bullying and he said, “I punched him and he never teased and pushed me again.”
Using violence to put an end to a bullying situation is not only wrong but will not put an end to the bullying in the school. Many counselors and social workers agree that if a student listen’s to their parents and “hit’s them back,” two things can happen.
1) The aggressor moves on to another child
2) The once target of the bully starts to be aggressive toward weaker students.
We have been told by many that violence only breeds more violence.
Nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time; the need for mankind to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to oppression and violence. Mankind must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression, and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.
Martin Luther King Jr., December 11, 1964
My Twitter, Facebook and Linked In groups are loaded with people who are sharing outstanding information on how to help children peacefully stand up to the bully. There is also information on what they should do to report it. But as Nancy Buyle one of my bully prevention mentors and a trainer for Bully-Free Schools once said to me, “you can’t ask these kids to speak up if there is nothing in place to protect them.”
Dr. William Damon (1995) Director of Brown University Center for Study of Human Development, points out that we serve young people best when we use small negative consequences so student’s attention is fixed on their actions and what is wrong with those actions rather than primarily on the consequences themselves. Most of all, expectation should be consistent so that young people cannot expect to get away with aggressive behavior. (Taken from Schools where Everyone Belongs, Stan Davis)
Every day during the morning announcements students should be reminded why certain actions are wrong and what is expected of them.
There should never be just a warning, the child that is aggressive to another, must know the consequences and most importantly understand why his actions were wrong.
I know principals are busy and teachers over extended but for the safety of a child who is a target of bullying behavior you must commit to following and enforcing the rules when deemed necessary.
Parents you too need to take an active role but please leave the personal baggage at home and focus on the safety of your child.
Parents also need to step up to the plate if they see something wrong, they too need to get involved and follow through.
Parents you need to get on or create your own school Duck Sense Bully Prevention advisory council to monitor all weekly and monthly reports from students and check how they were handled.
Together as parents, teachers, social workers, counselors and bully prevention specialists we must be willing to get involved to help and protect these kids and stop them from thinking that “nobody did anything.