Dealing with Bullying – Tips from the Teacher (Part 2)
A continuation of Nature Sargent’s post regarding bullies.
Myth #6: Large schools or classes are conducive to bullying.
Primarily, research suggests there is no correlation between bullying and increased class size. There is the suggestion of a correlation between increased size in schools and classrooms leading to less bullying because of greater opportunities to develop friendships. The more children there are, the more likely your child will find someone who is like-minded.
Myth #7: Most bullying occurs off school grounds.
Of course bullying happens mostly at school. School is where children spend most of their time around peers. It goes without saying that some incidents happen in the neighborhood, apartment complex, and other places where children gather while unsupervised. However the majority of bullying incidents are on school property.
Myth #8: Bullying affects a small number of students.
The National Association of School Psychologists estimated 160,000 children stay home from school daily because they are afraid. Parents, if your child constantly complains of not feeling well and there are no accompanying symptoms such as fever, sweating, or vomiting, you should ask them if there is another reason why they don’t want to go to school.
During the course of the school year, almost every child will have to deal with bullying. Observing a bully and knowing that you could be next is often as stressful as being the victim.
Bullies don’t just frighten their victims, they control other children in the class because of the possibility they may turn their terrible eye toward them. This may cause a smart student to shine less brightly in order to avoid the attention of a jealous peer.
It may lead a natural athlete to lose races and other physical contests to avoid angering a bigger student who feels they deserve first place. Bullies can control large numbers of children even when two or three are there preferred victim because of the possibility of their wrath.
Myth #9: Teachers know if bullying is a problem in their classes.
I cannot say this strongly enough: teachers don’t know! Bullies are sneaky. Tell the teacher. No professional, well trained, committed teacher would knowingly observe and ignore bullying. Also, be mindful that a single teacher is dealing with 20 to 30 children in a classroom. Sometimes, you may have to tell us more than once!
Sometimes, when a lot is going on a teacher may say, “Sit down; I will be with you in a minute.” Teach your child how to respectfully get the attention they need. “Ms. Sargent, I need you to stop, look and listen to me,” was the code my students agreed upon as a no matter what I need you right now. What is the code your child’s teacher has as an immediate attention getter?
Myth #10: Victims of bullying need to follow the adage “Sticks and stones will break your bones, but names can never hurt you.”
Children who are bullied over a long period of time often suffer from depression, consider suicide, and have other mental health difficulties. Words hurt. Some words inspire greatness while others ruin lives, careers, and marriages. The power of life and death are in the tongue. Teach your child to value words and to use them in a helpful, healthy manner.
What can you do?
First, talk to your child about their responsibility to protect themselves by using their resources. It is important for you or your child to tell the teacher. If this proves ineffective, immediately schedule a meeting with the principal. Parents, be aware of your district’s policy and procedures. In Dallas, parents get a Student Code of Conduct book. Read it! Make sure your children know the rules. Information is power.
There are many great books for children that deal with bullying. Please read this Bullying Resource List that will help you if you want to use picture or chapter books to prompt this conversation with your child.
In closing, I hope these Tips from the Teacher help you have a safe, successful school year. Write to you soon!
Nature Sargent is a native of Dallas, Texas. She graduated from Skyline High School, and attended Texas A&M University and Texas Tech University, of which she is a graduate with a BS in Family Studies. She holds an EC-4 certification in the State of Texas.