Columbine happened in my own backyard only twenty minutes from where I live. I am sure many schools learned a valuable lessons with Columbine. In honor of Bully Awareness week, I am inspired to write a post in the hopes others will get inspired too.
February 6-10th is bully awareness week. Do you have a child in school? Chances are at one point your child may have been bullied in one or more ways. No one is immune from the devastating blows bullying causes to one’s self-esteem. What most parents do not know is kids are scared to report incidents of bullying because of fear. If a child does not report the incident, then it makes it so much easier for the one doing the bullying to continue to cause harm.
Here are a few things parents can do to make sure their kids are not victims of bullying.
- Monitor closely your child’s behavior at home. Is he/she suddenly withdrawn?
- Does your child make excuses about not going to school? Find out the reason.
- Is your child suddenly doing poorly in school? Again, look into why grades have fallen.
- Does your child have problems making friends? This is more difficult to pinpoint; you might want to visit your child’s classroom to observe how the other kids react towards your child. Perhaps it might be a good idea to talk to your child’s teacher.
All of the above may be signs that your child may be a victim of bullying. The best thing a parent can do is to take the time to support your child and not let the situation get out of control.
I knew right away, that something was severely wrong with my daughter. Her senior year of high school, she suddenly stopped going out. After talking to her numerous times, I found out her friends started drinking, and she did not want to go down that road. Consequently, her friends started treating her like an outcast. In fact, they deliberately did not invite her to any of their social functions. She had been labeled “A goody two shoes” It tore me up inside to watch my daughter go through this. Deliberately excluding someone from participating is a form of bullying because you are not good enough if you do not do what the group wants you to do.
As a concerned and caring parent, I talked to my daughter and the nights her friends went out socializing without her, we rented movies, we went out eating and shopping. I am sure she would have preferred to be with people her own age, but what I did helped reassure that I cared, and it gave her comfort. I believe, this is what we must do as parents to help bridge the gap to help our children. Eventually her friends came to realize drinking was wrong and made amends with my daughter. I am glad she stood on the principles she had been taught.
As a classroom teacher, I understand how bullies work. Most often, the person doing the bullying are very adept at making their victim miserable. The most important thing I have done is to make my classroom a safe environment. I do my best to develop a great rapport with my students. Once I am able to develop that rapport, they can easily trust me. I have my classroom rules posted in my classroom so it is clear that bullying or teasing of any kind will not be tolerated. Understanding the mindset of a bully has led me to write my book of short stories titled: My Birthday Is September Eleven and Other Short Stories. One of the stories “Zebra Boy” helps shed light on the problem with biracial children. Biracial children have become a major target for bullies. I have intercepted many notes written by bullies depicting biracial children in the most vicious ways. Again, in my opinion, the best defense is to develop a good relationship with your student or child, so he/ she can come seek help. I also believe school districts have a responsibility to educate the student body on diversity.
As responsible parents and teachers, let us make a deliberate effort to make a change in a child’s life. Let us make 2012 the best Bully Awareness year ever.