Archive for the ‘Bullying’ Category
Posted by Lorain County Moms
BETH J. HARPAZ, Associated Press
NEW YORK — Teaching kids to become “bullyproof” is all the rage. Books, videos and websites promise to show parents how to protect their kids from being bullied; school districts are buying curricula with names like “Bully-Proofing Your School,” a well-regarded program used in thousands of classrooms. Even martial arts programs are getting into the act: “Bullyproofing the world, one child at a time,” is the motto for a jujitsu program called Gracie Bullyproof.
But can you really make a child invulnerable to getting picked on? And even if you could, should the burden really be on potential victims to learn these skills, rather than on punishing or reforming the bullies?
Parents and educators say when bullyproofing programs are done right, kids can be taught the social and emotional skills they need to avoid becoming victims. But bullyproofing is not just about getting bullies to move on to a different target. It’s also about creating a culture of kindness, beginning in preschool, and encouraging kids to develop strong friendships that can prevent the social isolation sometimes caused by extreme bullying.
WHO’S GOT YOUR BACK?
Bullies “sniff out kids who lack connections or who are isolated because of depression, mental health issues, disabilities or differences in size and shape,” said Malcolm Smith, a family education and policy specialist at the University of New Hampshire who has been researching peer victimization for more than 30 years. “So if you’re worried about your child being a victim, the best thing a parent can do from a very young age, starting in preschool, is ask, ‘Who’s got your back? When you’re on the bus, when you’re in the hall, who’s got your back?’ If they can’t name someone, you should help them establish connections to their peers.”
Smith, who is working on a program called “Courage to Care” that’s being tested in three rural New Hampshire schools, cited an example of a new boy who was being pushed and shoved by other boys in the hallway. “We didn’t know how to empower him,” Smith said, until the staff noticed that he’d become friends with a girl. “This girl is sweet but really assertive. What are seventh grade boys more afraid of than anything? Girls! So having her walk down the hall with this boy was the immediate solution to ending the bullying.”
Psychologist Joel Haber, a consultant on the recent documentary “Bully,” says kids should also have “backup friends” outside school through sports, hobbies, summer camp or religious groups. “That’s hugely important, especially as kids move from elementary to middle school.”
Haber says “most kids can learn skills to make themselves less likely to have the big reactions” that feed bullies.
“Let’s say you’re one of those kids who, when I make fun of your clothes, you get really angry and dramatic. If I taught you in a role-play situation as a parent or a therapist to react differently, even if you felt upset inside, you would get a totally different reaction from the bully. And if you saw that kids wouldn’t tease you, your confidence would go up,” said Haber
One way parents can help is to normalize conversations about school social life so that kids are comfortable talking about it. Don’t just ask “How was school today?” Ask, “Who’d you have lunch with, who’d you sit with, who’d you play with, what happens on the bus, do you ever notice kids getting teased or picked on or excluded?” advises Haber, who offers other bullyproofing tips and resources at RespectU.com and is co-authored of a new book called “The Resilience Formula.”
Bullies “feed on the body language of fear. It’s a physical reaction — how the victim responds, how they hold their head and shoulders, the tone of voice,” said Jim Bisenius, a therapist who has taught his “Bully-Proofing Youth” program in more than 400 schools in Ohio and elsewhere.
Teaching a kid to appear confident physically can sometimes be easier to teach than verbal skills, Bisenius said. “If a kid who’s never been mean in his life tries to fake it, or tries to outdo a bully with a verbal comeback, the bully sees right through that.”
Lisa Suhay, a mom in Norfolk, Va., said her 8-year-old son Quin was helped by Gracie Bullyproof, a martial arts program taught in 55 locations that combines verbal strategies with defensive jujitsu moves. Quin had been bullied so much on the playground that Suhay stopped taking him there. But she decided to give the park one last try after he completed the Gracie training.
No sooner did Quin begin playing on a pirate ship than a bigger boy knocked him down and ordered him to leave. But this time, as his mom watched in amazement, Quin grabbed the other kid around the waist “and landed on him like a big mattress, all while saying, ‘That was an incredibly bad idea you just had. But I’m not afraid of you.’” The other boy swung again, and Quin took him down again, then asked, “Now do you want to play nice?” They played pirates for the rest of the afternoon.
“It’s about respect and self-confidence,” said Suhay. “You’re not teaching them to beat up the bully. But they’re not cowering. They make eye contact. They talk to the bully. So much of the time they avert the situation because the bully doesn’t expect them to say, ‘I’m not scared of you.’”
HOW NOT TO RAISE A BULLY
The classic bully profile is a child who was neglected, abused, or raised in an authoritarian home where punishment was the norm. But lack of discipline is just as bad: Children who have no boundaries, who feel entitled to whatever they want, can also become bullies.
Smith worries that misguided efforts to boost kids’ self-esteem have produced a “sense of entitlement that we’ve never seen before.” He worries that we’re raising “the meanest generation” and says schools and parents must create a culture where meanness is not tolerated. “Kindness, empathy, caring and giving — you can teach those things.”
Haber says parents and schools can start in preschool years by discouraging hitting, pushing and teasing: “Ask, how would you feel if someone did that to you?”
Children can even be taught that being kind is fun. “Addict your child to kindness,” said Smith. “There are releases in the brain that feed endorphins that are very positive when you act with kindness. Encourage your kids to go over to a kid who’s alone and bring them in.”
Some kids who bully need help learning to read social cues. “If I tease you and you cry, most kids will realize they crossed a line and will apologize, but if I’m a bully, I want more power, more status, and I see there’s an opportunity to go after you,” said Haber. “If you see your child bullying a child, the child not only has to apologize but do something nice, practice atonement. Being a bully is less exciting when you have other skills.”
And beware the example you set when you treat a waitress or clerk rudely. “If you’re the kind of person who is constantly criticizing, you’re unconsciously role-modeling behaviors that kids will test out,” Haber said.
PROSPECTS FOR SUCCESS
Given what Smith calls “a history of failure” in reducing bullying, it’s easy to be cynical about whether bullyproofing can work. At one time, bullies were seen as having low self-esteem; now they’re seen as narcissists who think they’re superior. Conflict resolution was big in the ’90s, but that didn’t work because bullies don’t want to give up the power they have over their victims — even when they pretend to be conciliatory.
“They say what we want to hear. But they’ll go back and do it again when nobody’s watching,” said Bisenius.
But experts are hopeful about this new generation of bullyproofing programs, which teach social and emotional skills while promoting a caring school culture. Susan Swearer Napolitano, a Nebraska-based psychologist and co-director of the Bullying Research Network, who recommends a half-dozen bullyproofing programs on her website TargetBully.com, says “if these programs are implemented with fidelity and the messages are consistently communicated across a school community, then bullying prevention and intervention programs can help change the culture of bullying behaviors. However, ultimately it’s about people treating each other with kindness and respect that will stop bullying.”
Posted by Lorain County Moms
By DORIE TURNER, Associated Press
ATLANTA — When a Georgia middle school student reported to police and school officials that she had been bullied on Facebook, they told her there was not much they could do because the harassment occurred off campus.
So the 14-year-old girl, Alex Boston, is using a somewhat novel strategy to fight back: She’s slapping her two classmates with a libel lawsuit.
As states consider or pass cyberbullying laws in reaction to high-profile cases around the country, attorneys and experts say many of the laws aren’t strong enough, and lawsuits such as this one are bound to become more commonplace.
“A lot of prosecutors just don’t have the energy to prosecute 13-year-olds for being mean,” said Parry Aftab, an attorney and child advocate who runs stopcyberbullying.org. “Parents are all feeling very frustrated, and they just don’t know what to do.”
Almost every state has a law or other policy prohibiting cyberbullying, but very few cover intimidation outside of school property.
Alex, who agreed to be identified to raise awareness about cyberbullying, remembers the mean glances and harsh words from students when she arrived at her suburban Atlanta middle school. She didn’t know why she was being badgered until she discovered the phony Facebook page. It was her name and information, though her profile picture was doctored to make her face appear bloated.
The page suggested Alex smoked marijuana and spoke a made-up language called “Retardish.” It was also set up to appear that Alex had left obscene comments on other friends’ pages, made frequent sexual references and posted a racist video. The creators also are accused of posting derogatory messages about Alex.
“I was upset that my friends would turn on me like that,” she told The Associated Press. “I was crying. It was hard to go to school the next day.”
Alex learned of the phony page a year ago and told her parents, who soon contacted administrators at Palmer Middle School and filed a report with Cobb County Police.
“At the time this report was taken in May 2011, we were not aware of any cyberbullying law on the books that would take her specific situation and apply it to Georgia law,” said Cobb County police spokesman Sgt. Dana Pierce.
Police encouraged the Boston family to report the fake account to Facebook. Alex’s family said despite requests to Facebook to take the page down, the company did not do so. The website was taken down around the time the lawsuit was filed a week ago.
Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes and Cobb County school officials declined comment on the case. The two students named in the lawsuit haven’t hired an attorney and their parents couldn’t be reached for comment.
The thorny issue of whether schools may censor students who are off campus when they attack online has led to split decisions in federal courts. Administrators and judges have wrestled over whether free speech rights allow students to say what they want when they’re not at school.
Justin Layshock of western Pennsylvania was suspended after he created a MySpace parody in 2005 that said his principal smoked marijuana and hid beer behind his desk. The suspension was overturned by a federal judge, who found that school officials failed to show the student’s profile disrupted school operations. The judge’s decision was later upheld by an appeals court.
In West Virginia, Kara Kowalski sued school officials after she was suspended from her high school for five days in 2005 for creating a web page suggesting another student had a sexually transmitted disease. A federal appeals court upheld the suspension, dismissing Kowalski’s argument that the school shouldn’t punish her because she created the site at home.
The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear either case.
Jason Medley, of Houston, filed a defamation lawsuit in June against three of his daughter’s classmates. The classmates were accused of filming themselves making false sexual remarks about his daughter and posting the video to Facebook.
The complaint was settled months later with apologies from the girls and a small donation to charity, Medley’s attorney Robert Naudin said.
“The girls involved likely now understand the wrongful nature of what they did and the harm that can come of such conduct,” he said. “They made a donation out of their allowances to a charitable organization that fights against cyberbullying.”
In Georgia, lawmakers have given school administrators new powers to punish students if they bully others at school, but legislation that would expand the laws to include text messages and social media sites never reached a vote this year.
Seven states have added off-campus harassment to their bullying laws in recent years, though Georgia is not one of them.
“Cyberbullying really goes beyond the four walls of the school or the four corners of the campus, because if you use a cellphone, PDA or social media site, then those activities follow the child both into the school and out of the school,” said House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, a Democrat from Atlanta who co-sponsored the legislation that would have expanded Georgia’s bullying law. “It’s important for the state to really get ahead of this. It’s already happening, but it’s going to be more exacerbated and more difficult the longer we go.”
Alex and her family have started a petition to encourage lawmakers to strengthen Georgia’s law. Her lawsuit seeks a jury trial and unspecified damages.
“At first blush, you wouldn’t think it’s a big deal,” said Alex’s attorney, Natalie Woodward. “Once you actually see the stuff that’s on there, it’s shocking.”
Posted by Lorain County Moms
By Matt McNab, McClatchy-Tribune News Service
As recent high-profile bullying stories grip the nation’s attention, so too have anti-bullying practices and awareness. The upcoming Concert to Prevent Bullying is the latest event in the fight against bullying.
Sponsored by the New York Songwriters Circle, the concert is a benefit for the anti-bullying initiative Hey U.G.L.Y. (Unique Gifted Lovable You) Foundation. The concert will be held March 5 at the Bitter End, a famous rock nightclub in Greenwich Village in New York City.
Songwriter Circle Artistic Director Tina Shafer, who will also perform at the show, chose the concert’s acts. Brother-rockers Nat and Alex Wolff headline the concert. The duo formerly played as the Naked Brothers Band, which was turned into a successful TV show by Nickeloedeon.
The event also features three former contestants from season 10 of American Idol: semi-finalists Brett Loewenstern and Robbie Rosen and Devyn Rush, who was eliminated in the first round.
Other performers include indie artists Alisha Zalkin and Gabe Merizalde, actress (and the other half of actress Abigail Breslin’s rock band CABB) Cassidy Reiff, and teen musician Ari Zizzo.
Concertgoers who purchase a VIP ticket get a gift bag including a T-shirt from the event, rapper 50 Cent’s teen bullying book “Playground” and “Say it To My Face” wristbands.
To purchase tickets for the concert, head to http://heyugly.org/ConcertToPreventBullying.php. For more information on the Hey U.G.L.Y. Foundation, go to http://heyugly.org/index.php.
Posted by Lorain County Moms
By Jon Wolper, McClatchy-Tribune
The numbers for youth bullying are staggering — according to Stomp Out Bullying, a child is bullied every seven minutes on the playground, and 85 percent of the time there is no intervention. Leaders of National Bullying Prevention Month in October hopes to help curb the worst of the abuse.
PACER (Parental Advocacy Coalition for Educational Rights) holds events throughout the month of October aiming to increase public knowledge of how damaging bullying is. The group also encourages people to try and make an impact in their communities on the local level — by talking to media and holding community events, among other things.
The influence of PACER, over the years, has no doubt spread. “Cassandra’s Angel,” a children’s book by Gina Otto released this month, sends the message that children should be confident and assured. They should recognize the talents they have instead of bowing down to negative feedback.
Otto offers five tips for “raising confident children,” based on her 15 years of experience:
- Your actions and behaviors matter: Your children are constantly learning from you, so you must treat them respectfully.
- The words that you choose count: Small differences in word choice can mean the world to a child. Make sure, if disciplining, to focus on the action rather than the child who did it.
- Take the time to make it right: Children hold onto negative messages, so don’t be afraid to apologize if you go overboard. Still, though, make sure your child does learn a lesson in the process.
- Above all things, love: Always use positive reinforcement and always be as encouraging as possible.
- I’ve been there, too: Use yourself and your experiences as an example and as a way to tell your child that he or she is not alone in what he or she is experiencing.
Posted by Lorain County Moms
By Aisha Sultan, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Most kids never report getting bullied. Not to their parents or school. Jackie Humans, author of “15 Ways to ZAP a Bully!” shared these five steps for parents to educate and arm their children before it gets out of hand.
Step 1: Kids don’t report getting bullied for lots of reasons but the biggest reason may be the saddest: targets of bullying almost always blame themselves. Parents should bring up the subject of bullying by making it clear that NO ONE deserves to be bullied, no matter how imperfect or flawed they may be. Not even bullies deserve to be bullied.
Point out a universal truth: bullies do what they do because it makes them feel good. And anyone who takes pleasure out of being mean to another person deserves our pity. Because taking joy from hurting someone else is as low as you can go as a human being, and anyone who does that must be very, very damaged on the inside.
Casting the bully in the light of someone people should feel sorry for lets a child begin to think of the bully as the one who has a major problem, not them. This realization does two things: first, it helps kids to stop responding in an angry or upset way, which is the kind of reaction bullies thrive on, and secondly, it makes room in your child’s brain to start viewing the bullying in a dispassionate, intellectual way. Reaching this stage of the game is literally half the battle.
Step 2: Remind your child how important it is to be aware of the power of their body language. Kids should be reminded that what they say isn’t anywhere near as important as the way they say it.
When standing up to a bully, appearances count for everything. The statement, “You think you’re cool but you’re just a bully!” won’t deter a bully if the speaker has hunched shoulders, fails to make eye contact, or is using a whiny tone of voice. Bullies can spot the kind of body language that telegraphs, “I’m not feeling sure of myself.”
On the other hand, a child who stands just a little too close to the bully, with their shoulders squared, and making strong eye contact while saying, “Watch it!” is going to make a much stronger impression on the bully, even though their actual words may not be particularly eloquent.
Step 3: When kids come up with their own ideas for deflating bullies, they’re not only more likely to remember them, they’re more likely to implement them, too. Now that your child understands how important body language is, help them come up with their own comebacks.
Start by brainstorming together with a “no holds barred” approach. Encourage them to suggest as many responses as they can before you start winnowing down the unsuitable ones. The ones that make the grade are safe to use, aren’t terribly hurtful, and are easy to recall.
If your child has trouble getting started, it’s OK to suggest simple responses such as, “So?” When a target just keeps repeating, “So?” while looking bored, it’s demoralizing for the bully because now they’re the one who’s starting to look pretty uncool.
Step 4: Practice role-playing games with your child by taking the role of the target while your child takes the role of the bully. This approach has two advantages: First, kids feel reluctant to take the role of the target when they aren’t very good at it yet. And second, the best way to learn something is to teach it to someone else.
Make sure you let your child know that you’re depending on them to point out any mistakes you might make, whether it’s forgetting to make eye contact, whining, or slouching. By being the kind of target who makes every mistake in the book, you’re affording your child many opportunities for learning how not to respond to a bully.
When your child has “mastered” what not to do, then you can safely switch roles. Remember: nothing improves a child’s hearing like praise.
Step 5: Sometimes a bullying situation has gone on so long that your child simply doesn’t have enough self-confidence to confront the bully without help from an adult. That’s why it’s an excellent idea to teach your child the five W’s of reporting bullying: who, what, when, where, and most importantly, witnesses.
When schools can corroborate a student’s claims of being bullied by independently and discreetly interviewing bystanders who saw what happened, it’s no longer a question of expecting the school to take your child’s word against the bully’s.
Posted by Lorain County Moms
By Priscilla J. Dunstan, McClatchy-Tribune
Understanding what dominant sense your child is will make it easier to understand when they are being bullied and how to understand the signs. Being aware of behavioral exaggerations of their dominant sense, which may be different from your own, will help you gauge whether parental intervention is necessary, and what is manageable social interaction.
Tactile children will be most sensitive to physical bullying. They will be most upset by the pushes, shoves, the knocking of books out of one’s hands. They will feel helpless by their inability to fight back, and the injustice of the breaking of rules and their inability to leave the school environment. You may find that they will be more physical when they get home, fluctuating between throwing their school bag around and slamming doors; to wanting to cuddle while watching TV.
They will require more physical closeness from mom and dad, perhaps by wanting to do their homework next to you or asking you to take them to school. They may be resistant to wanting to be outside, although often by doing a physical activity together, you as the parent will be able to help them process the events more clearly.
Visual children will be most sensitive to the public nature of bullying. If it happens when other children are watching, or hearing what’s being said, the visual child will worry that others will believe it. They will be stung by comments about on appearance, weight, or the clothes they wear. You may find your child complaining about their nose, refusing to eat or dramatically changing the way they dress or style their hair. Since so much of their identity is tied up with how they look to others, it’s important to support them with changes to clothes, hair, etc. Make it clear that these changes are merely an artistic expression that will continue to change over time, and not a reflection on the good person they are underneath.
Taste and smell children will be completely overwhelmed by the intent of the bully. It is inconceivable to a taste and smell child that someone would intentionally set out to say or do something to hurt another’s feelings. They will try to rationalize the bully’s feelings, and become immersed and unable to concentrate on anything other than “why?” This obsessive thought process is the taste and smell child’s way of coping, so describing situations where you may have gone through a similar thing will be helpful. Unfortunately, all the intellectual understanding in the world won’t help stop some people from being nasty, and this is a lesson the taste and smell child will just have to learn.
Auditory children will be most affected by nasty comments, taunts, name-calling and, of course, tone. Being called a nasty name is far more upsetting to an auditory child than a shove in the corridor. The “sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never hurt me” rhyme does not apply to an auditory child for them, words cause real pain.
An auditory child will need to repeatedly talk out what was said by the bully, in order to comprehend it. The fortunate thing is that you will know about the bullying, because they will tell you about it, over and over. Be aware that sometimes, simply telling the auditory child that he said the right thing is all that’s needed to feel better.
Priscilla J. Dunstan is a child and parenting behavior expert and consultant and the author of Child Sense. Learn more about Priscilla and her parenting discoveries at www.childsense.com.
Posted by Lorain County Moms
By ANDREW DALTON, Associated Press
LOS ANGELES — Half of high school students say they’ve bullied someone in the past year, and nearly half say they’ve been the victim of bullying, according to a national study released Tuesday.
The survey by the Los Angeles-based Josephson Institute of Ethics asked more than 43,000 high school students whether they’d been physically abused, teased or taunted in a way that seriously upset them. Forty-three percent said yes, and 50 percent admitted to being the bully.
The institute’s president, Michael Josephson, said the study shows more bullying goes on at later ages than previously thought, and remains extremely prevalent through high school.
“Previous to this, the evidence was bullying really peaks in middle school,” Josephson told The Associated Press.
He said the Internet has intensified the effect of taunting and intimidation because of its reach and its permanence.
“It’s the difference between punching someone and stabbing him. The wounds are so much deeper,” Josephson said.
Josephson added the survey’s results don’t surprise him because his group has conducted similar studies without publishing the results. But he said he still finds the numbers “alarming.”
In the survey, 10 percent of teens admitted bringing a weapon to school at least once, and 16 percent admitted being drunk at school.
Josephson said that means victims of bullying are in danger of striking back violently.
“You have a combination that is a toxic cocktail,” Josephson said.
The study reported responses from 43,321 high school students from around the country, and the margin of error was less than 1 percent.
Rick Hesse, a professor of decision sciences at Pepperdine University, said the survey involved voluntary self-reporting and was therefore not a random, stratified sample of the U.S. population. But he said the large number of people surveyed and the lack of corrupting factors mean certain valid conclusions can be drawn from the results.
The study’s release comes in a year of several high-profile suicides related to bullying, including that of 15-year-old Phoebe Prince of Massachusetts, who prosecutors say was relentlessly bullied by the six girls charged in her death.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Education sent letters to schools, colleges and universities around the country warning them that failing to adequately address ethnic, sexual or gender-based harassment could put them in violation of federal anti-discrimination laws.
Posted by Lorain County Moms
By MARTHA IRVINE, AP National Writer
CADILLAC, Mich. — The parents of a Michigan teen who killed himself last year are taking on the topic of bullying in schools.
Tom and P.K. Harrison say a Michigan State Police investigation determined that their son Alex was harassed and ostracized before he died in February 2009.
Their story is resonating with students, especially when news of bullying-related suicide has become more common.
In one high-profile case in Massachusetts, several students have been charged in the death of a 15-year-old Irish girl.
The Harrisons have started a campaign called “See It. Hear It. Stop It.” It encourages students and teachers to report bullying.
Meanwhile, Michigan lawmakers are reconsidering a bill that would require schools to have anti-bullying policies.
Posted by Lorain County Moms
By LEANNE ITALIE, Associated Press Writer
Some common misconceptions may lull the parents of bullies into failing to recognize warning signs.
Bullies are often star athletes or popular girls considered charismatic leaders by peers and adults, experts say. What’s often missed or passed over as minor is a consistent pattern of control and aggression against other kids — behavior that socially savvy bullies can sometimes slide under the radar of grown-ups.
“It’s not what we typically think of. It’s not always the kid who’s pushing kids down on the playground,” says Rosalind Wiseman, who wrote “Queen Bees and Wannabes,” the basis for the movie “Mean Girls.”
“It’s children who feel like they’re the law of their school, that they have the right to set the law and if you challenge their power, like hooking up with the wrong boy, they have the right to put you in your place.”
Massachusetts high school freshman Phoebe Prince, a recent Irish immigrant, endured months of taunts and threats after she briefly dated a popular boy, prosecutors say. The 15-year-old hanged herself at home Jan. 14 and six of her classmates face charges.
Though Phoebe reached out to her parents and school officials in South Hadley, studies indicate that up to half of bullied children don’t report it. If they do, parents of perpetrators may not agree that the behavior of their kids rises to the level of bullying.
“If they face the reality that there’s something wrong with their children, then there’s something wrong with them and their abilities as parents, so a lot of parents don’t want to face it,” says Erika Holiday, a Los Angeles psychologist who co-wrote “Mean Girls, Meaner Women.”
The “Stop Bullying Now” campaign of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines bullying as aggressive, intentional behavior that involves an imbalance of power or strength and is typically repeated over time. While it can be physical, it’s often verbal, social or via cyberspace, driven by kids’ easy access at increasingly younger ages to social networks, text messaging and e-mail.
Parents may be so pleased that their kids are on top socially that they fail to stress an important component of the role: power comes with “responsibility to treat others with dignity,” Wiseman says.
“This really goes to how we function as a civilized society and what our responsibility is to each other,” she says. “Parents say my kid’s a good kid, he couldn’t possibly get into this situation. He’s a good athlete, he’s well-liked, but now he’s being suspended for the third time for some racial or hazing incident.”
Wiseman says teachers and school officials must work in concert with parents, something that often doesn’t happen. Without such partnerships, “It’s hard for a parent to really, fully comprehend how serious or dangerous a situation is.”
No parent wants to believe the worst, she says, choosing to accept and act on the rationalizations of their bullying children as the “one and only truth.”
Some misconceptions about bullying behavior:
KIDS BEING KIDS
Rumor campaigns, teasing, name-calling and excessive fighting are not just “girls being girls, kids being kids,” Holiday says.
The mother of one of the girls charged in Phoebe’s case said Phoebe and her daughter used to trade insults, but she considered it “normal” for teenagers.
Without clear guidelines at school or in other settings on what is and isn’t considered bullying, parents are left to make judgments that might not jibe with the beliefs of others.
THEY’LL GROW OUT OF IT
Research indicates that bullies, who often were victims themselves, are more likely than non-bullying peers to face serious trouble later in life.
“Bullies are at higher risk for alcoholism and drug abuse, at higher risk of going to jail,” Holiday says.
Wiseman says “most children who are mean or cruel think that something has been done to them first that justifies their behavior, in all age groups. It’s never OK.”
Wiseman urges parents to tune in to warning signs early on. She calls bullies “good resource controllers” who can manipulate other children with ease starting at a young age.
“When they’re younger, they control the tricycle on the playground that everybody wants and as they get older it can be things that they’re organizing or things that put them in positions of leadership, unofficial or not.”
While bullies are often “socially intelligent, can read people well and are charismatic,” Wiseman warned parents on the lookout for such behavior that not all kids with those traits bully peers.
Parents may play out their own pasts as bullies OR victims when taking on the social lives of their kids.
“There are parents who want their kids to be socially accepted and because they want the child to have a lot of friends, they accept mean behavior so long as the right people like you,” Wiseman says.
The dynamic is an important one for bullies, who rely on “wannabes,” or followers, to help make it happen.
“We are on the long road to making decent human beings,” Wiseman says. “You’ve got to hold your kid accountable. People who are in a position of power can do with it what they want to people who don’t have it, and that could lead to discrimination at its core.”
Posted by Alicia Castelli
We put up a post from “Deep South Moms Blog” on Tuesday by a mother worrying that her popular daughter would grow into a mean girl. I was really intrigued by this post. I’m willing to overlook the woman’s attempt to shift the blame for her own childhood behavior onto her “sidekick” because she obviously learned from her mistakes and changed her spots.
This is a topic I’ve thought about as my children enter school. Bullying. Boys tend to be very upfront and physical in their bullying while girls tend to be quietly cruel. Girls start rumors, do the whisper-look-laugh thing and pass around lists. “If you hate so-and-so sign here.”
I’d say the best way to teach your kids to be kind is to talk to them about your expectations for their behavior toward others, but don’t overlook the obvious “actions speak louder than words” adage. Do you and your spouse or friends make fun of others you know or see on TV or read about in the paper? Kids hear so much more than we realize and they internalize that behavior. Often they mimic it.