When it comes to bullying or abuse, I believe no child should ever feel like there is no one who can help, or that no one cares, and yet so many do; no child should ever feel afraid to come to school, and yet so many are.
Caring and Courageous Kids came to fruition in 2009 during the time I was a Speech-Language Therapist at an elementary school when I became aware that some of my special needs students were experiencing bullying. I was on my own journey of overcoming bullying in my adult life. “The need for change bulldozed a road down the center of my mind.” (Maya Angelou) I found my life’s calling!
Research shows that bullying occurs every seven minutes, yet 83% of school bullying receives no intervention. The latest research shows one in four children are bullied. Over half of adolescents have been cyber bullied (bullying through texting, emails, social media). Those who are not being bullied are often witnessing it. They are called bystanders. Our own children may be part of this cycle — as the one being bullied, the one who is bullying, or as bystanders. The bullied often become the ones who bully, when they don’t receive effective support. Those who bully may likely continue to bully throughout their lives without positive intervention.
Bullying is abuse, it is learned, and it is repeated, becoming a vicious cycle. Bullying others is a choice. At school, at work, in our homes, everywhere, we are faced with people who make choices to intentionally hurt others either physically or emotionally. Bullying is the most common form of violence.
Most prevalent type of bullying: Bullying is often thought of as physical (beating someone up, hitting, pushing, etc.). The more prevalent and pervasive kind of bullying which is seriously impacting our culture today is the social-emotional-relational kind such as insults, name-calling, threats, hateful words, rumors, gossip, and ostracizing others which often goes under the radar of adult. It is, and often is dismissed as “drama”. Bullying is also known as peer-to-peer abuse because bullying is done with the intent to hurt someone either physically or emotionally by someone who is perceived to have more power over the other. The one targeted tends to be more submissive due to personality, age, “status” in the group, disability or differences, etc. It is basically anything done to hurt, scare, intimidate, or threaten the well-being of others. It can be done face to face or behind one’s back such as rumors or cyber-bullying. Social media has enabled those who bully to hide behind secrecy, or to socially bully to a wide audience with catastrophic results such as suicide or violence. See additional pages: LGBT bullying and Special NeedsBullying.
Bully: I don’t believe in labeling someone a “bully” and instead I refer to that person as “the person who is bullying” or refer to the action itself as “the bullying.” The reason? Bullying is a behavioral choice and given the proper support and guidance, especially with young children, that child can begin to make new choices. I also don’t believe in labeling someone a “bully” because others may then view that person as unable to change or think that’s just who he/she is with no other expectations to change. I believe we should invest time in our children and help guide them to make choices which will help them in their relationships now and throughout life. Afterall, do we want our own child to be labeled a “bully”? Character is not set in stone. We all have unlimited potential to develop new habits, and to make different choices. See also: “Don’t want to bully”
Schools must have an effective plan: Although schools are beginning to adopt ways to address bullying and cyber-bullying, parents need to remain vigilant about ensuring that schools are actually doing, what they say they are doing, as well as ensuring that the plan they have in place is effective. Don’t assume that your school has a plan, and don’t assume they are following the plan if they have one!!! I recommend asking questions such as: Does all staff working with your child know exactly what has been going on? Does the school agree with you that your child is being bullied? Do the teachers know how to effectively deal with the problem? Do they all handle it in the same, consistent manner, and follow the school policy? Do all bullying incidents get logged? Has all staff had adequate training about the bullying prevention policy? Help your child’s school address bullying effectively. Whether your children have been bullied or not, you should know what their school is doing to address bullying. Become involved on any safety committees and if there isn’t one, be sure one gets started. Most states have laws now. Is your school compliant?
Become familiar with the laws regarding bullying in your state:
Research continues to show that ongoing educational programs which help create a healthy social climate in the school is the most effective. A happy and safe school or home doesn’t exist just because we want or expect it to. We must use our hearts and wisdom and experience to create the conditions for such a school or home environment. If your school does not have effective bullying prevention strategies and policies in place, talk to the principal and advocate for change. Don’t give up!
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