Bullying has always been a prominent problem in the hallways of schools, but over time it has gotten increasingly worse. With the innovations in technology and social media, bullies are able to follow our students and children home harassing them online as well. It is important to not only educate students about seeking help from adults when they experience problems like this, but to also confront the bullies and bystanders as well. Teach them to stand up for the victim and most importantly teach bullies that their actions have severe consequences.
Regardless of whether we are dealing with elementary, middle, or high school students, it is important to employ a zero tolerance rule on bullying. School should be a place where every student feels safe and respected! If you are having trouble talking to or educating your children/students about the harmful effects of bullying, these steps may be helpful for you.
Helping A Victim
Often time, students don?t want to complain about being bullied because they fear the abuse will only get worse if they are labeled a ?tattle tale?. Because of this, they often endure the bullying and over time it greatly affects them. Depression, self harm, and suicide are all very real effects of bullying, so it is up to us to ensure it never gets to this place.
The best way to go about talking to an individual you know is being bullied is reminding them that they can trust you! If they know that you will protect them from any further torment, they will feel more confident giving up the name or reporting their bully. You can do so through being open about a time in your life where you were bullied or felt vulnerable in school- we have all felt that at some point. This shared experience will get students to open up and see you as someone who understands them.
If you are having trouble getting through to this individual, seek out help. It is not uncommon for parents, counselors, or therapists to combine forces to help figure out the best way to help a student. The more proactive you are, the better.
Confronting a Bully
Most individuals aren?t bullies because they want to be or because they think it will make them ?cool?. Many of them suffer from self confidence issues, trouble in their family/personal life, and a collection of other reasons. The key to confronting a bully is to identify why it is they pick on other students. Only after identifying and tackling this issue head on, can someone effectively get through to a bully.
This task may seem simple, but that is hardly the case. It may take many sessions to develop a close relationship with the student to get them to open up to you, but that work is necessary to understanding their deeper issues that cause their behavior problems. It may seem uncanny to be sympathetic to the bully, but it is important to understand they could be the victim of abuse outside of school and therefore project that onto other students.
All it takes is one person! If one person builds up the courage to stand up for the victim and tell the bully to back off, it will start a chain reaction. There is power in groups and if the victim is suddenly supported by a few other students, the bully will often lose their sense of power or control and leave the altercation. The problem is that usually bystanders don?t feel the urge to stand up for another student especially if they see him or her as a stranger.
This may be attributed to the well known bystander effect, the phenomenon in which a bystander is less likely to offer help if there are other individuals present. They may simply think, ?Someone else will do it? or ?What if they start to bully me?. It is our job as adults to show students that they should take the initiative to stand for the little guy and that no harm will come their way if they shut the bully down.
We can best motivate students to display this type of initiative by explaining the power of groups and a united front as well as imagining if they were the victim. Usually after picturing themselves in the shoes of the victim, they understand how much another person standing up for them is appreciated.