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Monday, August 2, 2010

A Solution to the Problem of Bullying

I know, I know, I know. I said that I wasn't going to post as many "real" posts this week because this is an unusual week, with all the back-to-school giveaways going on. You should check them out, btw! Links are in the sidebar. But, this is a post that has to do with school and one that I've had in my drafts for months. I think it applies now and I'd love to hear some feedback on this issue.


Something should be done about bullying.

Schools need to do more about bullying.

We hear this all the time and I think that everyone agrees that it's a problem. One that's only getting worse because of the internet. Used to be that you could escape from it at home, as long as you didn't answer your phone.

Now, there's facebook, myspace, twitter, even youtube bullying.  Cellphones with text bullyings.

And we all cry out why isn't more being done to stop it?

But, can you tell me what can be done? Other than the parents of the bullies putting a stop to it.

Let me explain to you a little from a teacher's perspective. I taught both elementary and middle school- and have to say that middle school girls are the worst.

The things that I tried as a teacher, when bullying was going on(we're talking more verbal, not physical here- physical is actually easier to prove and to deal with than verbal, in my experience):

*Separate the kids concerned- in the classroom and lunchroom and even when we line up to go somewhere. But, the bullies still find opportunities to bully. Note: please don't blast your child's teacher if your child is being bullied in a class like art- go talk to the art teacher about it.

*Send the bully to the counselor and/or principal. Often, the bully either says what he/she knows the counselor wants to hear or claims that nothing is going on. And then they come back to class pissed off.

*Suspend them? Well, that's an issue for the administration to decide on and they often don't because it's a lot of he said, she said. And, you often have parents who will protest this, saying it's not fair to suspend their kids when they "didn't do anything."

*Conference with the parents? It's amazing how many of these kids' parents say "kids will be kids and they need to work it out by themselves." Often bullies have parents who are bullies.

There are anti-bullying education programs out there and a lot of schools are starting them now, beginning in kindergarten- which is when it needs to start.

Teachers fostering an environment embracing diversity can help, too.

But, a lot comes down to the parents:

How do your kids treat other kids?

How are they being treated?

Be involved and get to know your child's friends- if they are in with kids who bully, chances are they will either bully, too, or the group could turn on them and bully them(this is another lose-lose, but at least you can be aware)

Look for the difference between them not being friends with another child and bullying(whether they are the bully or the target)

Do not tolerate bullying at home- start young.

If your kids are older, make sure you are monitoring whatever social media they are on- I know some people will call this an invasion of privacy, while others call it parenting.

I wish that this post that gave an easy solution to the problem of bullying. I don't have one. It's what I struggled with the most when I was a teacher: trying to find a way to stop it.

What do you expect to be done about bullying? Please, if you have any ideas, share them!

Labels: ,


Blogger Sugar Bear said...

Talk about being on the same wave length...I have a post in draft about my fear of bullying since Jacek starts school next month.
It does start with the parents and if it continues then I believe it's a behavioral issue that should be met with counseling. I was bullied by a kid that now sits in jail 18 years later because he assaulted someone. Bullying is serious and not just a phase kids will grow out of.

August 2, 2010 at 7:41 AM  
Blogger Rebecca said...

So agree with this not being about what the schools can do (because they're working their tails off trying to figure this out), but more about what the parents of bullies can do. It's so hard to prove and much of it happens off school grounds now as you said. Kids just need more limits...there is no reason that a kid younger than 8th grade needs a FB account. Texting...um...no. It's scary and it's just going to get worse as the opportunities for lashing out and ruining someone's reputations increase thanks to technology.

August 2, 2010 at 7:52 AM  
Blogger ♥ Brittany Ciara ♥ said...

First off, middle school girls are the absolute worst! Bullying should not be tolerated, anywhere. I don't think schools have or will find a solution anytime soon, but you are right, it starts in the home.

I know a person who is a complete bully towards practically everyone, while his father is the same.

While KAS can be a bully herself, she is also bullied because she is stick thin with crazy calf muscles and a six pack at age 11! Kids will bully anyone about anything. But when one says "kids will be kids and they need to work it out by themselves" it is wrong, shouldn't more support be provide so that the kids can actually stop. If you just let them run along and let them solve the problem for themselves, the problem may actually get worse.

Although I don't have much advice for this... bullying is something that NEEDS to stop.

Thanks for sharing, Shell.

August 2, 2010 at 7:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is something that terrifies me. While my oldest is outgoing and bossy at home she is quiet and shy at school and especially in a tense situation. She rarely communicates if something is bothering her. We are working on it.

August 2, 2010 at 7:59 AM  
Blogger Miss Welcome said...

I think this is an excellent issue to bring up. I might be pessimistic to think that it could change anything though. I was the one bullied (sat alone at lunch during junior high) and, despite a couple years of pure torture, at least I have a strong character as a result. But I don't know if kids would have changed if they had been talked to ... Kids sense insecurity like a shark near blood.

August 2, 2010 at 8:06 AM  
Blogger Alexandra said...

Excellent post, Shell. And I think it's great that you post "real " during such a busy before school time. Thank you.

We had to pull my middle guy out of school mid year due to bullying. THe parents were NEVER held accountable. I think that's what should happen. Make the parents responsible. The parents were never even contacted!!! It got to the point where my guy was throwing up every morning before school. No one cared. Not the principal,not the teacher. They said, "take him to see someone for anxiety." The Dr we saw said, "pull him out NOW." and, voila! he had the happiest year of his school life at home.

August 2, 2010 at 8:09 AM  
Blogger Brandi said...

I don't think that parents or the schools do enough about bullying. There should be zero tolerance for it. Period.

I remember when I was in school absolutely NOTHING was done about bullying, but by gosh if you wore a skirt 1 inch above your knees, you were sent to the principal's office and your parents were called right then. Maybe that should be done with bullying (among many other things).

August 2, 2010 at 8:12 AM  
Blogger Dual Mom said...

You could not pay me enough to be an administrator at a jr/high school these days. The parents of these bullies are the exact same ones that hire a lawyer when their little shit of a child is kicked out of College for cheating. You're absolutely right when you say that it needs to start with the parents.

August 2, 2010 at 8:32 AM  
Blogger Tractor Mom said...

Bravo Shell!! As a teacher (alternative school teacher), I see bullying everyday! Being an alternative school we have a little more flex in what can be done with students. The one thing that we notice is that "the apple doesn't fall far from the tree" and that most students that we have that are bullyier's that rotten parents(that's being nice, folks!) Those parents that will read this post are not the parents that need to be reading it!

If you child is being bullied I suggest you start asking questions. If you are not getting anywhere with the school administration, go higher! Go to the school board if you have too! School bullying is bad press and remember "the squeeky wheel gets the grease"!

But be sensitive to the kids that are doing the bullying. Many are doing it to survive a home life that most of us could never imagine. The more noise you make to protect your child, will a lot of times get help from the bullier too!

We have found that when the other kids understand the "reasoning" behind another student's bullying, the bullying sometimes stops because the kids end up seeing life through each others eyes. It works for our kids because most come from REALLY rotten home lives.

There is no one answer but we have to realize that this is not just a school problem but a SOCIAL problem! Just watch Jersey Shore!!
The answers are not easy and are different for each bully! But bullying will never be sloved if we don't start making the PARENTS (on both sides) responsible!

Come by when you can...


August 2, 2010 at 8:44 AM  
Blogger Evonne said...

I agree that parents need to step up more.

A lot of schools around here have anti-bullying programs, which is good. But at the same time, I've seen a lack of action when it comes to dealing with a bully in these same schools. Schools need to also step up when it comes to zero tolerance for bullies.

August 2, 2010 at 8:58 AM  
Blogger Kmama said...

I so agree with everything you posted here. It boils down to parenting. I am paranoid that my kids will be bullies...but in reality, the likelihood is very slim because we have taught them to respect others.

August 2, 2010 at 9:00 AM  
Blogger The Grasshoppa:Triplets Plus Two Momma said...

I think parents need to be the one to step in if they suspect their child is being bullied. The sad fact is that the admin and related sources are just too close to the problem. They get de-sensitized to the whole situation.

As far as the bullies---they are crying out for help. SCREAMING for help. Lord only knows how these kids will make if someone doesn't recognize it before they really go and hurt someone or themselves.

August 2, 2010 at 9:04 AM  
Blogger Oka said...

Thankfully our elementary and middle school actively take part in anti-bullying programs. With that said, it doesn't stop everything.

My oldest is prone to being Bullied because he has AS and others just don't et him. They easily find a way to turn his differences on him.

Thankfully, the teachers have always been aware of it. So has admin. If I kid is sent to the office several times for bullying, they know it's true and get the school psychologist involved with that family. They don't let it end with the family siding with the kid.

I can't say this for all the schools in our district. I have had to have friends remove their kids from the other middle school for physical bullying. Their Admin believes if their is no witness, it's all he says/he says even if there is physical evidence.

People may not agree with me, but as far as cyber bullying go, parents allow it to happen by allowing their kid free reign on cells and the internet.

My oldest is 13 and going into 8th grade, I refuse to get him a cell with unlimited text and calling. I limit his online interaction to school work, and there is no way on earth is going to You Tube without sitting right next to me. It will be a long time before he is allowed on FB, Myspace, etc. Why put him in a position to be bullied???

August 2, 2010 at 9:06 AM  
Blogger ~✽Mumsy✽~ said...

Very wonderful post, Shell!

I was bullied by neighbors two years ago, so it's not only kids, but be aware of adults also.

August 2, 2010 at 9:13 AM  
Blogger Secret Mom Thoughts said...

My daughter starts kindergarten in Sept. She is already concerned there may be bullies there. I really hope not. It is so scary to not be able to protect them for mean kids.

August 2, 2010 at 9:16 AM  
Blogger Andrea said...

Bullying is such a tough situation. I hope I don't have to deal with it anytime soon!

August 2, 2010 at 9:26 AM  
Blogger Jenn said...

Wow. I've been thinkin about this lately, and my daughter is still a baby! I hope that, when the time comes, I am able to be objective - whether she is bullying or being bullied. I can't imagine how to handle this ... luckily I have a few years!

August 2, 2010 at 10:04 AM  
Blogger Hutch said...

I worked at a day camp/after school program for 5-12 year olds for many years. From my experience, it definitely starts early and the bullies are either victims at home or taught by their parents. Part of why I got out of the youth recreation area was due to the parents. Loved the kids, but good lord did the adults take their toll! It's sad and I wish there was more done at a younger age to prevent it. Raising awareness is the first step.

August 2, 2010 at 10:11 AM  
Blogger Jenny said...

I agree 100% percent with this post. I am a teacher and there is nothing I hate worse than seeing someone trying to make someone else feel bad. It pisses me off. It is also important for parents to note that there are often times that even the classroom teacher doesn't see what is going on because these bullies know when they can bully without being caught. Be sure your child has a voice and will speak up to a trusted adult when they are being bullied. It is also important to teach your child how to deal with the bullies because a lot of the times you will not (unfortunately) be able to change the bullies' behavior.
Thanks for this important post!

August 2, 2010 at 10:34 AM  
Blogger Di said...

Ugh - such a tough subject - especially since kids can be so mean. But look at what they are exposed to and how snarky the media is and what do you expect? I think we need to stop rewarding this type of behavior as a society if we want things to change!

August 2, 2010 at 10:44 AM  
Blogger mypixieblog said...

This is a topic that deeply concerns me, though I don't yet have children of my own. I remember getting picked on when I was younger and how much it affected me then... and obviously that was before the days of Facebook and Myspace and whatnot. It just seems these sites and the use of cell phones make it so much easier to stalk and really bully classmates. It's sad. But I think the problem needs to be addressed in the home and that parents should be held accountable if their child is exhibiting this kind of behavior.

August 2, 2010 at 10:48 AM  
Blogger Pearl said...

Bullies have parents who are often bullies. How true this is!

I think, as a society, we have come to rest on the idea that we can get what we want through intimidation and violence. The arts of diplomacy and compassion are being lost!


August 2, 2010 at 10:48 AM  
Blogger Katie said...

I don't have to worry about this for (hopefully) a long time, since my DS is only 9 months old, but I know that it's such a huge problem, and only getting worse.

You are dead-on when you say that it begins with parents. EVERYTHING begins at home. Schools can only do so much, but if the parents aren't reinforcing anti-bullying messages at home, the bullying won't stop. It's vital for us parents to monitor what our kids are doing online and on their cell phones. (And that's only if you choose to buy your kid a cell phone!) The best anti-bullying strategy I can come up with is to ensure that 1) my kids know that there is an open line of communication between us, and there is nothing they can't talk to us about, 2) teach my children to be as kind and inclusive as possible, and 3) teach my children to be assertive and unafraid to stand up for themselves.

August 2, 2010 at 10:54 AM  
Blogger Mrs4444 said...

I think that anti-bullying programs focus too much on REACTION and not enough on being PROACTIVE. We spend all this time on helping kids deal with being bullied and almost none on the bullies themselves. You are right on about the causes of bullying, and I think that needs to be targeted. Plus, teachers can make a big difference by being visible in hallways and less-structured environments. I think kids can also be encouraged to band together against bullying. Last year, I had my students journal a "Note to Bully." I then took all of their messages and created mini-posters that we posted around the school. It was awesome. Not sure of the impact on the bullies (who knows?) but we at least did something, and I know it was empowering for my students.

August 2, 2010 at 11:10 AM  
Blogger Mrs4444 said...

I think that anti-bullying programs focus too much on REACTION and not enough on being PROACTIVE. We spend all this time on helping kids deal with being bullied and almost none on the bullies themselves. You are right on about the causes of bullying, and I think that needs to be targeted. Plus, teachers can make a big difference by being visible in hallways and less-structured environments. I think kids can also be encouraged to band together against bullying. Last year, I had my students journal a "Note to Bully." I then took all of their messages and created mini-posters that we posted around the school. It was awesome. Not sure of the impact on the bullies (who knows?) but we at least did something, and I know it was empowering for my students.

August 2, 2010 at 11:10 AM  
Blogger Jessica said...


What if you're child is being bullied by kids at church or even by their own cousins?

Then what?

I can't really post to complain about this because my blog is public to my family and friends.

I sometimes feel like the only solution is to keep my son next to me at all times. That's not a social life for a kid though.

August 2, 2010 at 11:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It absolutely breaks my heart when I see what other parents/kids have experienced.
My mom just retired from teaching grammar school and she shared stories with me as well. I have to say she and her school were very proactive about addressing these things. but, the issue of the parents of these kids being protective jerks is quite true.

August 2, 2010 at 11:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent post Shell. Ryan's old school started zero tolerance against bullies a few years ago. Any kind of bullying verbal or physical they got expelled from school.

August 2, 2010 at 12:20 PM  
Blogger Kir said...

thanks for sharing this with us, because as a mom now I worry a lot about school (or even daycare) and bullying...I know that parents HAVE To be held accountable and I really hope that I can teach my children that being popular doesn't equal being mean.

Kids today scare me , they really do, it's like their internal censor isn't being monitored...I plan to be a parent that does.

August 2, 2010 at 12:20 PM  
Blogger Jen said...

This is one of the things that I fear most about Hayden being in school. He is such a sensitive kid and wants to please everyone that I seem him getting pushed around.

But I think that you are right, it all starts at home. We as parents have to teach our kids how not to be bullies and what to do about it if they are being bullied.

I just want to know, why do people have to be so mean?

August 2, 2010 at 12:31 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I am the world's worst when it comes to bullys. Since I am very hands-on with my children's activities, I am around other people's children as well. And if I encounter a bully, which most often for me is in a church setting, I will kind of start picking on the bully. I will call them out in front of their friends. And give them a taste of their own medicine, but I know that is sending the wrong message, these kids just get me so mad I can't help but be mean to them. And heaven help if they pick on my kid!

August 2, 2010 at 12:50 PM  
Blogger The Drama Mama said...

Good stuff, Shell. I have nothing to add, but I may next summer. I hope not. Anyway, I have something for you over at my place.


August 2, 2010 at 1:28 PM  
Blogger Crystal Escobar said...

So true, it's really the parents who are responsible to make sure their child isn't participating in this kind of stuff.
Makes me so scared for Lily when she goes to school. I don't want her to ever have to deal with this kind of stuff. Kids can be so cruel.

August 2, 2010 at 1:28 PM  
Blogger Salt said...

As someone who was picked on as a kid (girls can be brutal), I don't think enough is being done as far as punishments are concerned and I definitely think that it is up to the parents of these kids to make sure things like this don't happen.

Of course now it seems like it's SO much worse than it ever was when I was younger. The fact that kids are being driven to suicide because of bulling from their peers breaks my heart into a million pieces. And then it seems like the bullies in question have no remorse, which is just sick and sad.

August 2, 2010 at 1:31 PM  
Blogger Tammy said...

We have had an issue with a little girl bullying Emily for several years now. This last year was the worst....it also came into the classroom. We still have no proof that it was her but we will find out shortly. She is supposedly not returning to our school. I am praying that she doesn't. I think the most frustrating thing was the teacher was so laid back about it. He did try to help, but only when his camera went missing. Bullying is a tough call. Thanks for sharing Shell!

August 2, 2010 at 1:40 PM  
Blogger Ian said...

It's a 80/20/100 split.

80% are the parents who are enabling their kids to bully...etc.

The other 20% are the other kids picking on your kid, etc.

Finally the 100% are those parents again. It all comes down to the parents and how you raise your kids.

It all boils down to that.

August 2, 2010 at 1:54 PM  
Blogger Sassy Salsa girl said...

Bullying is a FRUSTRATING subject! I don't have any real experience with it, but I think a parent knows if their kid is a bully. I think that stopping it has to begin at home.

August 2, 2010 at 2:08 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I was bullied in junior high because I was overweight. By the guys...they just made fun of me...the girls weren't so bad...one was...but eh...we all have a bad apple..it was the guys...they thought saying my name followed by "fat" in a squeaky voice was cool...I laughed it off but it really hurt me.

I wish there was an easier/better way to handle it. Even now, I go to church with one of those guys and have talked to him about it...he never knew how much it bothered me.

August 2, 2010 at 2:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I told my son that if he EVER picked on a kid because they were small, or smelled, or had holes in their pants, or because he didnt like their shoes, or whatever reason, I would dive down to the school and beat his ass in front of everyone. And I also told him if he got in trouble for sticking up for a kid that was getting picked on that I would be on his side. I wouldnt let him get in trouble for sticking up for someone!

August 2, 2010 at 2:55 PM  
Blogger Nancy C said...

I totally agree with Mrs. 4444. Unstructured time, especially at middle school, is a petri dish for bullying. When I was teaching, I loved it when I worked at schools that provided safe places for kids....board games in the library during lunch, a classroom to eat at with self-selected friends (supervised by a caring teacher), etc.

When I was teaching, I thought a lot about grouping and seating charts, to prevent some of those antagonizing situation. Unfortunately, much of the bullying happens "underground" and with social media, even more so.

I hope and pray I do the right thing when I my kids are in school.

August 2, 2010 at 2:57 PM  
Blogger Joann Mannix said...

And bullying just slays my heart, because I have always taught my girls that kindness is everything and so when someone hurts them, they just don't understand that kind of meanness.

I think it's not always in the children's world either, sometimes the mean kids never grow out of that awful trait. Blog world, for instance, seems to be filled with such an unnecessary amount of incivility and bullying. I don't understand it. I don't understand how people can hold such a hatred for others when other bloggers have done nothing but churned out day after day a noble blog filled with righteousness.

August 2, 2010 at 3:02 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

I really hope that when my little one goes to school she does not have to deal with this. I want her to be able to stand on her own and if someone is picking on her to walk away and get help. If the help is not there then for her to let me know. I want her to be able to know she is a strong person and know one can push her down. Words are something that can roll off of her.. I hope she does okay..

August 2, 2010 at 3:04 PM  
Blogger Michelle @Flying Giggles said...

Yes, middle school girls are horrible! I found my diary from jr high yesterday and I could not believe some of the stuff I was reading!

Bullying is a serious matter that needs attention. Thanks for your tips. I am sure they will help people dealing with the situation!

August 2, 2010 at 3:07 PM  
Blogger CeCe Wilson said...

Wow Shell! Obviously by all the posts and similar comments we know that this is not just an issue you've been thinking about. I know that I've been dealing with my son and bullies for a couple of years.

As a mom, it's frustrating and bewildering when you are trying to be cooperative with administration and yet your child is still coming home depressed and stressed. NINE year olds should not be stressed about going to school!!!! My son is small framed and short and brilliant (and not afraid to tell you so either) which all lend themselves to making him the perfect target. I'm not sure how I'm going to handle things this year.

When I was teaching, I noticed that the parents who were more quick to excuse their child's behaviour rather than try to get to the root of the issue were the ones whose children were at the heart of peer conflicts. I don't think we parents know just how vital we are to instilling values, perceptions, and appropriate social skills. I still think some of us believe our kids raise themselves and honestly I suppose some children do.

I know there is no quick fix to this problem because bullying has been glorified by the media in cartoons and movies and books too and most people think it to be culturally acceptable if it is not hurting their children personally or someone close. Until everyone sees bullying as "our" and not "their" problem it will only continue to get worse.

August 2, 2010 at 3:17 PM  
Blogger Stephanie said...

As a Mom of 2 girls I have had to deal with this. My daughter was bullied b/c she hung out with a girl who did not wear the "right " clothes to school! Girls will pick on anything! It is so frustrating. I just keep on preaching the old Do unto others and help them to choose friends wisely. It is hard and I fear it is only going to ger worse.

August 2, 2010 at 3:30 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

We take any type of bulling serious. Luckly my daughter who is in HS. Hasnt had any problems. My other two kids were part of a school program. Where they had the older kids help out the younger kids. It seem to help with the bully situation. I think as a parent you just need to let your kid know to come to you no matter what. These days you can't let your kids fight it alone. Only my daughter has myspace, fb, etc. Luckly once again she hasnt come across bulling in that format.

Thanks for coming by my blog. It felt good to know someone understood about the emotional freedom with pregnancy.

Happy Monday!

August 2, 2010 at 3:32 PM  
Blogger Your mom said...

Thought provoking post.

As a former middle school teacher and current doc student for education, I agree that bullying is a HUGE issue and that girl v. girl bullying is the worst--it's so covert!

Schools do seem to get the blame for not solving systemic social issues. I'm not sure what the answer is. As a parent, I make sure to teach my kids how we talk to people and treat people. As a teacher I made sure I paid attention to hallways and bathrooms and that when I saw bullying--especially verbal name calling--I intervened RIGHT away and put the "bully" on the spot.

Technology is a whole different enchilada and I think that is the parent's responsibility (which is scary now that I am a parent).

Good thoughts.

August 2, 2010 at 3:47 PM  
Blogger Michelle Pixie said...

Both of my hubby and I were bullied in middle school and we are very anti-bully around here. Diva was hanging out with a girl last year that is a future bully for sure. We did everything to get Diva out of that situation and I sure hope the girl stays away from Diva this year or it is going to be another long year. It makes me so mad that more parents don't see when their child is doing wrong!

August 2, 2010 at 4:09 PM  
Blogger Lourie said...

Yes! This is what I was saying all through out this post Shell. Last year my daughter was being bullied, by her "supposed" BF. Looking back, all the signs were there. Anyway, I am lucky enough to know a cop. I went to him for advice. (The bullying was in texts) I told him how we told her to keep the texts, but never to respond. etc. He said that was right. Then he said to change her number. And MEAN B*TCH friend asks why tell the truth, "I was being harassed" and if they ask for the number...again the truth, "My mom is not letting me give this one out."

I am worried about her as the new year approaches. I don't want her to go through what she went through last year. She missed several days of school due to this.

With so many parents banded together to fight for the same thing, why is it still so hard to change it?

August 2, 2010 at 4:24 PM  
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August 2, 2010 at 4:28 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Great post! I think it's going to take everyone...school and parents to end this. The problem I see is some parents don't see it happening...or don't want to believe their child is a bully.
Even worse are the parents who teach their child to be a bully. You sure can't do much there since the mom and/or dad are bullies too.

August 2, 2010 at 4:33 PM  
Blogger Sara said...

I think so many parents are terrified their child will be bullied that they forget to make sure their kid isn't doing the bullying.

(As always, I don't have kids, so it's a lot easier for me to shoot my mouth off when I have no idea what I'm talking about.)

August 2, 2010 at 4:48 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

I've been stalking the school's website to see when my daughter's teacher information will be posted (she is starting kindergarten). One thing I noted is that ALL of the teachers have school rules posted and they are all about respect. And when you drive down the street the sign out front has information about bullying and how it will not be tolerated. I'm so glad our school takes a proactive approach to this.

One thing I do at home is try to teach empathy. We ask a lot of "how would you feel" questions. It seems to me that this is not something that comes natural (at least not for my daughter) and is definitely something we are having to teach. She has a lot of natural SYMPATHY but not EMPATHY, which are really different. It is very important to me that she wouldn't treat anyone else in a manner that she wouldn't want to be treated.

August 2, 2010 at 4:51 PM  
Blogger TerriG said...

My oldest was bullied by team mates and kids in school. Finally, I told him to let the bullies know if he fought back and got in trouble at school or by the coach, that he wouldn't get in trouble with me. I even told the relentless brat at soccer that I didn't care what my son did to him. Guess who never got bullied again? Most bullies are cowards who need to be stood up to. All the bully intervention programs sound great to adults, but kids have been bullies from the begining of time. I didn't always feel that way, but turning the other cheek, just fed into the bullying.

August 2, 2010 at 4:54 PM  
Blogger Buffee said...

I saw on TV where a school is going to start charging fines for bullying. $100 for the first offense, $500 for the second. If it continues it could lead to suspension. I'm guessing that might get the parents' attetion?

I definitely think it's the parents responsibility to teach their children though. Kindness starts in the home. If the parents aren't involved and don't teach their children to be kind to others and not to bully, then there's always going to be a problem.

August 2, 2010 at 5:19 PM  
Blogger Cheryl said...

I don't have a solution, but wanted to say my kids being bullied is one of my biggest fears, especially because my eldest boy is very, very sensitive. My brother and I were both bullied (him worse than me) and that was before the internet. I don't even want to think about how bad it would be now.

August 2, 2010 at 5:39 PM  
Blogger Daisygirl said...

I know I will soon be faced with this issue. I know I have a kid that will be bullied and one that will be the bully. I am hoping that my little bully will be able to protect his "older" brother.
I was raised in a house of jocks...always taught to be tough and although I wasn't really a bully I was never picked on because I was tough.
My daughter although we are a lot alike doesn't have my same personality and when someone calls her a name she cries...this scares me a bit. As parents we just have to be open to talk about everything about ever avenue.

It does all start at home but sometimes I feel there is only so much we can do.

August 2, 2010 at 5:40 PM  
Blogger Liz Mays said...

Based on what I saw as a parent, bullying is only really cracked down on when parents push, push, and push some more. Thankfully, my kids were never in that type of situation.

August 2, 2010 at 5:43 PM  
Blogger Angelia said...

Two years ago my daughter was followed home by a bully in her class, along with a group of girls. These girls chased my daughter in front of a car. She is one of the lucky ones, she 'only' suffered a broken leg. She 'only' needed surgery and will have pins/screws in her knee for the rest of her life.

I'm lucky because she is still here with me. Some bully victims aren't so lucky.

It's a terrible problem and has esclated into more than just "kids being kids". The bullys parents were informed 3 times prior to this incident that their daughter was picking on mine and did nothing to assist us. The bully has gone unpunished.

August 2, 2010 at 5:47 PM  
Blogger KristinFilut said...

I'm convinced that big mean people make little mean people. I have gone straight to the parents of the bullies and had it out with them.

Most of the neighborhood kids play at my house, when the mean kids weren't allowed to play here anymore, they got kinda lonely. Their behavior turned around pretty quickly.

The best was when the mom I talked to came over and asked why I wouldn't let their kid play at my house and I said, "Because you have a mean child. I have spoken to you and to your child about how poorly she treats the other kids. You clearly don't have any desire to instill kindness and honesty into her, therfore, I made the choice to not allow her to play her any longer."

August 2, 2010 at 6:07 PM  
Blogger Farah Jasmine said...

It's a fine line. You can either nip it in the bud, but is that allowing your children to learn to deal with problems themselves or hindering them? Or you can let them fight it out? The hard part is trying to figure out when it's gone "too far" since we (as adults) don't see everything that's happening.

Wanted to let you know I gave you an award :)

August 2, 2010 at 7:00 PM  
Blogger Sylvia Plathypus said...

I am about sick to death of freaking bullies! We have at least one kid with a bully problem every single year. When my older daughter was in 4th grade, she had a bully who tormented her behind the scenes, and she felt she didn't know who to talk to about it. I noticed at home that she was withdrawn, and was acting very strange about the oddest things, like people touching her shoulders, or sneaking up behind her even inadvertently. But she would not tell me what was going on. Then, about 1/4 of the way into the year, I got a call from the school, who wouldn't say anything to me except, "You need to come up here to the school right now. It's an emergency." I was flipping the hell out!! Turns out, she felt so cornered and so completely without options that she decided to take a pocketknife to school....to threaten them with. She said she wasn't going to use it, just show it to them and try to intimidate her way out of that corner. Luckily, she showed it to a friend on the bus first, and the kid went to the office and narced her out as soon as the bus let them off. The principal told me that if she had so much as opened up the blade, even if she never brandished it in any way, she would have been in police custody and at a juvenile detention center BEFORE THEY WOULD BE ALLOWED TO CALL ME!! I about came unglued. The mother of that little fucker, who I found out later was making suggestive and really perverted innuendo to my daughter, said the classic line -- They just need to learn to be nice to each other. She even had the nerve to suggest that it was only a schoolyard crush and that he just didn't know how to let her know how he felt!! She was lucky to walk away from that conversation with her hair and all of her teeth. I tore her ass up one side and down the other!!! In fact, the principal even jumped in and told us both that she wasn't even concerned with the fact that a pocketknife was in my daughter's possession -- she was only worried about WHY. Because [The Teenager] is always so well-behaved and upbeat and empathetic to others, she knew right away that the knife would NEVER have entered the equation unless she was being tormented to the point that she thought there was no other way out. Had it been a teacher who didn't know Madison that was told about the knife, or the person who was principal the year before that one, I would have been in a whole different situation with her...and that scares the crap out of me! With all the varied experiences I've had dealing with this bully crap, I've found the only effective way to go about dealing with the heart of the issue is to take it to the parents. And not in a "Oh, let's sit down and disuss this like there's no problem in the first place" kind of way, either. Like you said, children who bully tend to have bullies for parents, and those kind of people only understand/respond to a force not to be reckoned with. It took me a couple of years to come to that realization, but once I did, it helped me tremendously. I don't try to fight all the battles for these girls. I know they do have to learn to handle situations for themselves. But when someone is bullying you, there is no rational way of dealing with it from a child's standpoint. They aren't allowed to retaliate, they don't get the kind of help they need from the school if the bully is being sneaky enough...it's a lose-lose for them. That is where I come in as a parent and make those people understand that my child won't be made a target. And one thing a bully definitely understands is strength, which I am more than happy to show. I may not have had it when the girls started school, but I damn sure have it now.

And HUGE KUDOS to That One Mom, who posted before me!!

August 2, 2010 at 7:15 PM  
Blogger Sylvia Plathypus said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

August 2, 2010 at 7:15 PM  
Blogger Sylvia Plathypus said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

August 2, 2010 at 7:15 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I don't have an easy answer. I think that so much begins at home and can be blamed by whatever may be going on at home....I was bullied when I was in 2nd grade (girl stole my lunch probably 2-3x/week) adn then verbally bullied in junior high. Teachers did nothing, my mom tried, to no avail...it was hellish. I've already started talking about it w/ my kids and we got the Berenstein Bears book on Bullies. I hope they will never suffer like I did or cause someone else pain....

Great post, shell!

August 2, 2010 at 8:10 PM  
Blogger Stephanie said...

Parents need to take a more active role in their children's lives instead of not wanting to be the bad guy. You are the parent, not their friend.
Shell, you are 100% right, middle school girls are HORRIBLE! I have a 7th grader and some of the things that go on in the class are crazy.

August 2, 2010 at 8:22 PM  
Blogger Kel said...

You are right. There is no easy solution to this problem. Mostly because there are so many different types of bullies. As a teacher and a mother, it really bothers me that schools say they have a no tolerance policy on bullies, yet they don't enforce it. Nothing will ever improve if everyone turns a blind eye.

August 2, 2010 at 8:32 PM  
Blogger kel said...

I was bullied as a child so I will do anything to protect my child from it. And on the flip side, I told her that if I ever found out she was bullying another child she would be punished without mercy!

August 2, 2010 at 8:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As you read on my blog, we just faced our 1st major bullying situation at the tail end of 5th grade. I contacted all of the parents and let them know what was going on. Some appreciated the call. Most rolled their eyes and basicaally felt that these kids are old enough to work out the conflict themselves.

When my daughter started receiving nasty texts from ppl, especially ones who she didn't give her # to, we shut the cell phone off. When the e-mail blasting started I replied to the emails and told them this was over, and I didn't allow my daughter to look at e-mails for weeks, until I was sure they were done. For now.

The rate of teen suicide is much too high for us to take chances on these kids resolving their own issues, especially when their parents have not started teaching them conflict resolution at an early age, as you said.

Good post Shell!

August 2, 2010 at 8:41 PM  
Blogger Joey Lynn Resciniti said...

I'm so glad this post addressed the difficulties the teachers and administrators face. It's a sad reality that often parents expect the school to take care of these things. It starts and ends at home. It's a daunting thing when so often grown-ups are still bullying each other.

August 2, 2010 at 8:50 PM  
Blogger Mellodee said...

This problem has been around since the Dawn of Man and it is getting worse. There are lots of factors that go into making a kid a bully and we all agree that its up to the parents to make certain that their child is not a bully. Sadly, as is true of many things, the ones causing the problem never seem to understand that the whole issue is just flat wrong for anyone and so they never see the need to change their own or their kid's behavior. An adult bully is a blot on humanity!

Parents and teachers have been trying to decades to come up with the right approach or action to stop bullying in its tracks. As far as I can tell, nothing has worked.

It is heartbreaking when your child is the one being bullied and you can't make it go away.

Children can be so cruel unintentionally. When they do it on purpose, it is horrible.

The worst of it is that we still are having the problem and I'm afraid we always will.

It's not possible of course, but it makes me want to drop-kick such a kid (and/or his/her parents) over the side of a mountain with a looong way down.

August 2, 2010 at 9:01 PM  
Blogger Adrienne said...

Great topic and post! I agree 100% that it has to start with the parents at home! School is a reflection of what children learn at home. Unfortunatley, many parents see it the other way around, and leave it up the teachers to raise their kids. And as far as the whole 'invasion of privacy' thing...No way will my kids have any kind of connection with others without me monitoring it. I don't care how old they are. I think that's parenting! Great post, Shell!

August 2, 2010 at 9:43 PM  
Blogger adrienzgirl said...

Children learn how to treat others at home. Period. If childhood bullying isn't corrected, they grow up to be mean adolescents and mean teens and mean adults.

Great post Shell.

August 2, 2010 at 10:12 PM  
Blogger Crinthia Megan said...

Great post! This comes at a good time for me! My 1 year old child isn't going to school yet, but she does have play dates with older and younger children. I tell other mothers of older children she flips out because she doesn't like to be hit. And when she hits others, I tell her it is bad. Parents need to be more involved with letting their kids know how to treat others. I think as the generations go by, we are losing respect with each one.

August 2, 2010 at 11:30 PM  
Blogger shortmama said...

I absolutely agree with you! I think parents want to just send their kids to school and let the school deal with the issues..they expect the school to fix everything. It has to start at home with the parents. I havent experience bullying directly yet with my kids but my bff has with hers and the parent of the bully didnt really seem to care and so it continued. Its awful, its not a kids will be kids issue...its a treat others as you want to be treated issue

August 3, 2010 at 1:33 AM  
Blogger Bethany said...

Wow, this topic is so important. My son isn't really bullied at school, but he does not have friends. Kids reject him, and that hurts, too.

The part of this I loved the most is the part about monitoring our kid's social media. I don't see any reason for a kid younger than high school age to have any sort of social media account, but when they do, it is absolutely the parent's job to monitor it. Be friends with your kids on facebook, follow them on twitter, check their cell phones for text messages both sent and received, and check their internet history. Google their names even. It is our job as a parent to protect our children and if needs be, to protect other kids from their immature actions.

Kids can have privacy when they are 18, live under their own roof, and pay for that cell phone and computer themselves.

You are absolutely right. It's not invasion of privacy, it IS parenting.

August 3, 2010 at 2:03 AM  
Blogger mdforkids said...

This is something I'm becoming increasingly concerned about. My son had been on the receiving end of some in preschool! Geez...but you bet I spoke up. It's true the verbal kind is so much harder to deal with. I think you are absolutely right...not invasion of privacy, it's called parenting and it's our job. Whether our children are on the receiving end or doling it out, we need to know so we can deal with it effectively. It's not pleasant, but it's our job.

August 3, 2010 at 4:23 AM  
Blogger Simoney said...

Interesting what you have to say from a teacher's perspective on this, Shell. So far we have been pretty lucky with no bullying. Our kids' school has an active anti-bullying strategy where older children/classes mentor and care for the younger children. There is also a great lunctime disciplinary programme that all the kids know about and try to avoid. Communication with the school is great, and very open.

But as you say, it starts at home. Quite often i found in my youth work days, that the worst, meanest kids had mean parents who would often hardly bother with them - until someone said a word against their kid and then they would get up in your face and tell you where to go. their kid could do no wrong. Scary. it was a whole different world.

For me, I try to jump on meanness in my kids whenever it raises its head. verbal or physical I just won't tolerate unkindness. It turns my stomach. I think I would be more devastated to find out that my kid was a bully than if they flunked a subject. Honest.

August 3, 2010 at 6:09 AM  
Blogger Ma What's 4 dinner said...

It's so scary the world that our kids live in today. I mean, we had mean kids and what not, but it's just so different now. And they are sooo grown up these days and have access to so much more. It just terrifies me. And you I'm sure, I can't believe we're going to be sending the oldest ones off to kindergarten this year!

It does begin at home. So many parents these days are just downright, ok I'll say it, A$$HOLES. No wonder these kids are screwed up. Our elementary school has a no touching policy. NO TOUCHING of any sort period. I think it's kind of extreme, but hey, they say it's working for them.

Great topic. Miss you,

August 3, 2010 at 8:03 AM  
Blogger natalee said...

This topic is scary to me... I am sooo afraid my sons will be victims... but I NEVER want the to be the bully so teaching thenm is a fine line... As a teacher i have NO tolerance for it..... Ahhh i still remember my high school bully...Ahhh.. she was a nightmare...

August 3, 2010 at 8:15 AM  
Blogger Derek said...

Very good post. An anonymous reporting system is necessary but the problem will always exist. Here are the main topics that I address whenever speaking with parents and educators:

1. Lack of Parenting Skills
2. Lack of teacher training
3. Lack of administration support
4. The lack of respect for educators
5. Holding students responsible for their actions

These must be addressed. For free articles and information visit my site www.stoppingschoolviolence.com

August 3, 2010 at 4:08 PM  
Blogger Karin Katherine said...

I recently met a teacher who works at a very elite private school in our area. She said they had a zero tolerance policy. All students AND their parents are told about the policy in great detail when they enroll. If a student is caught bullying they point it out to the kid, the other teachers the kid works with and the parents. The 2nd time the kid bullies they are expelled.


That is the only way to end the bully issue.

August 3, 2010 at 10:34 PM  
Blogger MommaKiss said...

Oh. Sigh.  I just have to say that this topic breaks my heart. There is 'some' level of bullying at every stage of life. Pre-school, middle school, high school, college (hazing anyone?) and even as adults. I was bullied as a kid. I was teased and picked on. The verbal hurts the worst, in my opinion. That said, I turned out OK. Others? They go and shoot up schools or kill themselves. I can see that anger and frustration level, I can. You are 100% correct that it starts with the parents, though. My mom told me - "they called you poor? Well kid, that's true. We are poor in that we don't have a lot of money. But we are strong and loving and you are smart and beautiful. Having things and a lot of money doesn't mean you're happy and maybe they see that and feel the need to lash out." See what I mean? My mom realized the situation, respected my sadness and fear, and helped me through it. On many occurrences. 

The parents of the bully? They need also need to realize that yes, their kid can be an asshole. But parents aren't always around - and so schools have to intervene somehow, but I don't know the answer.

I pray to GOD my kids find the right balance. I don't want them picked on, but don't want them doing the bullying either.-

August 4, 2010 at 2:03 PM  
Blogger Dalia (Generation X Mom) said...

I do agree that parents must step up. However, how do we do that? We can do that with our own kids but how do we make other parents do that? I guess we can only do as much as we can. Joining the team in my school (as I explained in my post), I am hoping to be a part of this tough task. The idea is being proactive. Not punishing or consequences but awarding for good behavior. Role models of good behavior. Ambassadors. I guess we will see how it goes and can hope for the best. But I do think people need to stand up and try and not just think it will take care of itself.

September 17, 2010 at 10:04 AM  

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