Working Together to Prevent Bullying
Thursday, February 10, 2022 Volume 16 Issue 19
Now that we are all emerging from the fog of dealing with COVID, we are starting to see some behaviors emerging in our school that we are addressing. We have seen recent instances of students getting in other’s personal space, students pushing each other, and name-calling. We know that students had more limited social opportunities over the last couple years and that all children need practice learning how to negotiate difficult social interactions. We also know that along with teaching social skills, we also need to draw a clear line when behavior is inappropriate.
How to recognize and report bullying is important for students to learn. Our school counselor, Ms. Matsui, along with classroom teachers, teach lessons to help students distinguish between a conflict, rude behavior, mean behavior, and bullying. These differences can be hard to see but are important in order for us to address behavior in the most effective way. For example, with rude behavior, a student is behaving in a way that upsets others because it is thoughtless, but it may not be intentional. In this situation, a child may need help developing social skills. In contrast, bullying is intentional behavior that is repeated over time and involves a power differential between the bully and the victim.
At school, we teach students that bullying is a problem that needs to be reported to an adult. We also talk to students about the importance of being an Upstander – someone who can help refuse bullying by supporting the targeted child, to help them to report to an adult, or to report to an adult for them. Research shows that students who are upstanders play an important role in creating a climate where bullying is not seen as an acceptable behavior. When bullying comes to the attention of an adult, we make sure there is a plan in place to end the bullying, to make sure the child who was targeted has a safety plan in place, and to make sure the child who engaged in bullying has a plan in place to avoid recurrence of the behavior.
Parents play an important role in helping, too. If your child reports bullying to you at home, try teaching him an effective way to report so that adults will understand the this is a bullying situation and not “tattling.”
This includes letting an adult know:
What is happening that is making him fearful or uncomfortable
Who is doing it
What he has done to try to resolve the problem or get the other child to stop the behavior
What help he needs from the adult (often students are able to best articulate what they need in a given situation)
If your child has reported to a school adult and the behavior continues, or if your child needs help to report, please be in touch with your child’s teacher.
If you are a parent whose child has been involved in bullying, it is important to help your child change their behavior. Denying the problem only increases the likelihood that your child will continue to engage in this negative behavior. It is difficult for a child to take responsibility for behavior that she knows is hurtful and so they may try to convince you that they are being unfairly accused. Remember that bullying is a pattern of behavior, not a one-time incident. Review the information about bullying incidents with your child and make it clear that you take bullying seriously and you will not tolerate these behaviors. Your child may have developed bullying behaviors for a variety of reasons – i.e. a need for power or a lack of self-confidence -and school and home working together will end bullying more quickly by working together.
We want our school to be a place of inclusivity, where all of our children feel safe and can do their best learning. Parents, students and school staff working together can help create this environment.