“I shall remember forever and will never forget.
Monday: my money was taken.
Tuesday: names called.
Wednesday: my uniform torn.
Thursday: my body pouring with blood.
Friday: it’s ended
That’s the final diary passage of thirteen-year old V. Singh. He was found hanging from the banister rail at home on the following Sunday. It is also a defining portion of the book Bullycide, Death at Playtime by Neil Marr and Tim Field. October is National Bullying Awareness month. I’d like to talk a little about school bullying. Bullying by definition in the Merriam-Webster dictionary means 1: to treat abusively 2. to affect by means of force or coercion. That’s so much more than just bad behavior.
For bad behavior to be considered bullying, it has to have two ingredients, says Rana Sampson. She wrote a pamphlet called Bullying in Schools for the U.S. Department of Justice. The first ingredient is repeated harmful acts against the same person. The second is an imbalance of power. That means one person (the bully) must have or believe that he or she has more power than the victim has. (Power can be physical strength, or it can be a type of mental control.)
Each bullying act, Sampson says, usually includes* a victim,
* the ringleader bully
* assistant bullies (they join in),
* reinforcers (they laugh with or encourage the bully)
* bystanders (they don't take a side)
* and defenders (they step in and stick up for or comfort the victim). (Hunt, P., & Nevins, D)
According to the National Education Association it is estimated that 160,000 children miss school every day due to fear of attack or intimidation by other students. I’d feel safe saying that could probably be an understatement.
I’d like to show you a picture of my son
(Cutie Pie, isn't he?)
Now I'd like to show you what bullying can do.
My son, at the age of 4, was a victim of school bullying. After the bullying became physical we had no choice but to withdraw him from the program. Luckily for us, the damage has been fairly minimal. He isn’t dealing with any real emotional issues and everything but one scar has healed and disappeared.
Bullying is real. It’s not something that just happens to everyone else. It can happen anywhere.
If you check out the website Make Beats Not Beat Downs, you can find information about the different types of bullying.
“Bullying can take many forms but it usually includes the following types of behavior:
• Physical – hitting, kicking, pinching, punching, scratching, spitting or any other form of physical attack. Damage to or taking someone else’s belongings may also constitute as physical bullying.
• Verbal – name calling, insulting, making racist, sexist or homophobic jokes, remarks or teasing, using sexually suggestive or abusive language, offensive remarks
• Indirect – spreading nasty stories about someone, exclusion from social groups, being made the subject of malicious rumors, sending abusive mail, and email and text messages (cyber bullying).
• Cyber Bullying - any type of bullying that is carried out by electronic medium.” (http://www.makebeatsnotbeatdowns.org/facts_new.html)
Knowing what bullying is, the different ways it can occur and the seriousness of the issue; how do we prevent it? Can we prevent? Most people say the key to bullying prevention is awareness. You know that old saying “knowledge is power”, bullying prevention is a great example of that at work. Be aware of your surroundings. No, not the physical surroundings, the people you are surround with. Familiarize yourself with their behaviors their moods. Be aware of those things so you can and will notice any changes. Read the clues. Are they having any frequent headaches or stomach aches, feeling sick or faking illness? Have there been any changes in eating habits, like suddenly skipping meals or binge eating? Are they having difficulty sleeping or frequent nightmares? Are there grades declining? Is there a loss of interest in schoolwork, or not wanting to go to school? Maybe there is a sudden loss of friends or avoidance of social situations or feelings of helplessness or decreased self-esteem. These are all clues that something like bullying is going on.
If you determine bullying is occurring, a resolution lies within your reaction. React the right way. Stay calm, and have an orderly plan. Start by assessing the level of bullying. All types of bullying should be taken seriously, but how you handle it will depend on the nature, severity and duration. Once you have gathered all of the facts try emailing or meeting with the teacher. Here is where staying calm really comes in to play. Try to remember you’re on the same team. If the teacher can’t resolve the problem, involve the principal. Put it in writing, explaining the steps you’ve taken, and ask that they intervene. Find out what they plan to do to keep the child safe. Then monitor the situation, and if you’re not satisfied, meet with the superintendent or, if necessary, the school board. If it’s cyber bullying report the harassment to your Internet Service Provider. If it’s physical, report it to the police.
Finally, no matter how tempted you are, don’t confront the bully or his parents. Tempers are likely to flare, which will just make the situation worse. Leave it to the school or legal authorities.
William Shakespeare wrote,
“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players.
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts, …” (As You Like It, Act 2, Scn. 7)
“The bully, the bullied, and the bystander are three characters in a tragic play performed daily in our homes, schools, playgrounds, and streets.” (Colorose, B.) And, just like the characters in Shakespeare’s play, the roles we have as characters in life are real and the consequences of some actions can be deadly.
Which characters are you?