10 Ways To Stop Bullying
We as parents are all concerned about the possibility of our children having to deal with a bully while at school, on the playground, or worse still on their smart phones, more accurately called cyber bullying. It is devastating to have harsh words hurled at our children with fragile psyches and/or physically assaulted while at school, on the playground or on the school bus. Often the school systems in America have classrooms with too many kids and teachers that often say, “I didn’t see it happen so I can’t do anything about it” This is something that makes our kids and parents themselves feel helpless and the bullies know what they are doing with that paradigm in place. There are 10 ways to stop a bully.
1. Hang out with friends instead of hanging out by yourself as a child at school or other places where bullying has happened.
2.Keep track of what was said, who said it.
3.Notify the police if any physical attack happens
5.Let your teacher know and tell your parents. Make sure you let your parents know if they aren’t listening to you. You need to be validated. You don’t really usually want an adult to go to the school and make matters worse or tell you to just ignore the bully. But you do need to let the bully know that when they do hurl verbal assaults your way, that they are just lame words, or just say “whatever” to them. Display indifference. Let them know what they say doesn’t bother you and they are less likely to keep doing it.
6. Be active in anti-bullying meetings/think tanks for solving the problem in your school and community.
7. Take up for your friends and for others that you don’t even know if you see them being bullied
8. Don’t isolate yourself when something is bothering you. Go talk to a trusted friend of family member.
9. Seek out counseling when it’s possible at school.
10. Remember, again– your reaction can make the bullying get worse if you are visably hurt by their words. It does hurt but don’t let them know it does.
The Bullying Stats In The USA
Bullying is at epidemic levels all around the developed world. It is rampant, widespread, pervasive and the psychological and physical effects can be catastrophic. It goes on in our communities, in our schools – and yes sadly – even in our homes. Bullying statistics are staggering, scary and call for serious consideration and immediate definitive action.
Some Facts and Statistics
90% of students in grades 4-8 report have been harrased or bullied.
28% of students in grades 6-12 experience bullying.
20% of students in grates 9-12 experience bullying.
In grades 6-12, 9% of students have experienced cyberbulling.
Over 160,000 kids refuse to go to school each day because they fear being bullied.
70% of students report witnessing bullying in their school–and over 71% state bullying is a problem at their school.
More then 10% of students who drop out of school do it because of being bullied repeatedly.
Each month 282,000 students are physically assaulted in some way in secondary schools throughout the United States–and the number is growing.
Statistics point to the possibility that revenge [due to bullying] is the number one motivator for school shootings in the U.S. Desparate bullied kids go back into the school one day and let go with a firearm in their hand due to the torment they have endured.
86% of students interviewed stated, “other kids picking on them, making fun of them or bullying them” is the number one reason that teenagers turn to using deadly violence at school.
Almost 75% of school shootings are linked to harrasment and bullying.
87% of students surveyed stated that bullying is the primary motivator for school shootings.
64% of students who are bullied don’t report it to anyone, as they believe noone will believe them or do anything about it.
Bullying: Help your child deal with a bully
The consequences of childhood bullying can last a lifetime. Listen to your children when they voice concerns about something happening to them at school or anywhere for that matter. Take the time each day and ask your children how their day went and ask them if their were any problems at school that day. Then help your child stop bullying in its tracks. We talk more about that below.
A very helpful book by Mayo Clinic Staff can be found on Amazon => HERE
Bullying used to be considered a childhood rite of passage. But today, bullying is recognized as a very serious problem. A “NO Tolerance Policy” doesn’t work.
To help your child handle bullying, learn to recognize it first — and understand how to respond.
Types of bullying
Bullying is without a question a form of aggression, in which one or more children repeatedly and intentionally intimidate, harass or harm someone ( your child for example who becomes their victim) who is perceived as unable to defend him- or herself. Bullying can appear like the following 4 situations.
Physical. This type of bullying can include hitting, tripping and kicking, shoving, or destruction of a child’s property. Knocking books out of their arms while walking in halls is another example.
Verbal. Verbal bullying includes teasing, name-calling, taunting and making inappropriate and embarrassing sexual comments.
Psychological or social. This kind of bullying involves spreading rumors about a child, embarrassing him or her in public, in front of their peers, or excluding him or her from a group at school on purpose.
Electronic. Cyberbullying means the bullying happens by using an electronic medium, such as email, websites, a social media platform, text messages, or videos posted on websites or sent through phones, to threaten or harm children.
Some of the terrible consequences of bullying
Being bullied as a child often causes:
Mental health problems. There is an increased risk of depression, anxiety, sleep problems, low self-esteem, and thoughts of self-harm and suicide in children who are bullied.
Impaired academic performance. Children might be afraid to go to school who are bullied and are much more likely to get poor grades. Kids being bullied are also more likely to receive school detention, miss, skip or drop out of school. How is it fair that the very kids that are victims suffer from all of these consequences. Something has to be done about this.
Substance abuse. Children who are bullied are at highter risk for using/abusing alcohol and other drugs.
Violence. A very small number of children who are bullied may even retaliate with violent behavior such as bringing a gun to school or knife or do self harm.
Some Warning signs of bullying
If your child is being bullied, they might stay quiet out of fear, shame or embarrassment.
Warning signs may be vague or hard to figure out at first and may look the same as a number of other mental health issues.
Watch out for sudden changes in mood or behavior, including:
- Lost or destroyed clothing, electronics or other personal belongings
- Abrupt loss of friends or avoidance of social situations
- Poor school grades or reluctance to go to school
- Headaches, stomachaches or other physical complaints. These are often checked out by a healthcare provider and nothing is actually found as far as a reason for the main complaint.
- Trouble sleeping
- Consistent distress after being on social media or on their phone without a reasonable explanation. This is a good reason to limit phone time after school hours and on weekends. Being open game for cyberbullying 24hr/7d/week is a horrible way to live and an easy way to fall prey to bullies any time of the day or night. Take all phones away from kids after they get home from school and on the weekends if at all possible to minimize their exposure to bullies.
- (If possible don’t let them have a cell phone or smart phone for as long as possible.)
- Feelings helpless and suffering from low self-esteem
- Self-destructive behavior, such as running away from home and cutting themselves or self medicating with drugs or alcohol or both.
- Eating habit changes
What do you do if your child is being bullied???
If you suspect that your child is being bullied, take the situation seriously!!!
Encourage your Kids to share their concerns. Stay calm, listen in a loving manner and support their feelings. Make sure you tell them to always come to you with anything. Make sure you don’t punish them when they do and what you hear isn’t what you like. This will put a wall up between you and your kids, then when trouble happens, you will be the last person they come to. This can have devastating consequences. Express understanding and concern. Remind your child that they are not to blame for being bullied.
Learn about the situation and it’s details. Have your child describe how and when the bullying happens and who is doing it. Find out what your child has tried to stop the bullying, and whether it’s worked or not. Ask what you can help with to help them feel safe.
Teach your child how to respond. Don’t encourage retaliation or fighting back against a bully. A better plan may be asking your child to try telling the bully to leave him or her alone, walking away to avoid the bully, ignoring the bully, or asking a teacher, coach or other adults for help—or that’s what everyone tells children to do, but it doesn’t work. INSTEAD, JUST say “whatever, that’s so stupid!” This message lets the bully know what they said to the other child isn’t negatively affecting them, so they are more likely to leave the kid alone.
Suggest hanging around with friends wherever the bullying seems to happen, as being alone is exactly what a bully wants. Tell your Kids not to respond to cyberbullying, and to block the bully on the phone and social media.
Talk to your child about how to best utilize/control technology. Make sure you know how your child is using the internet, social media platforms, or his or her phone to interact with others.If your child is being cyberbullied, don’t automatically take away devices or computer access. Children might be reluctant to report bullying for fear of having their cellphone or internet privileges taken away. Assure your child that you will not remove electronic privileges if he or she shares a problem or concern with you.
Make up a technology contract that lists your family’s rules for safe and respectful use of technology devices. This contract should state in it that — while you won’t invade your child’s privacy — you still have the right to look at the content of your child’s devices especially if you have safety concerns, and you will do so in your child’s presence.
Know and list out in the contract your child’s account usernames and passwords. Sign the contract and post it in a place in your home where everyone can easily refer to it.
Help your child’s self-confidence grow as strong as possible. Encourage your child to foster friendships and get involved in activities that feed your child with positive messages about their strengths and talents.
How To Respond to bullying ( not react) Believe your child!
If your child admits to being bullied, take action. For example:
Record the details. Write down the details — the date, who was involved and what exactly happened. Save all screenshots, emails and texts. Record the facts as objectively as possible.
Contact authorities. Get help from your child’s principal, teacher or the school guidance counselor. Report any cyberbullying to web and cellphone service providers or websites. If they have been physically assaulted/touched or otherwise threatened with harm, talk to school officials and call the police.
Explain your concerns/worries in a calm and matter-of-fact way. Instead of blaming, ask for help to solve the bullying/aggressiveness problem. Keep good notes during these meetings. Stay in contact with school officials. If the bullying doesn’t stop, be persistent.
Ask for a copy of the school’s policy on bullying. Be an expert on how bullying is addressed in the school’s curriculum, as well as how staff are obligated to respond to known or suspected bullying. Keep all of this in a folder at home.
If your child has ever been injured or traumatized by continued bullying, get an opinion from a mental health provider preferably one specializing in pediatrics and/or bullying issues. You might also think about talking to an attorney. Taking legal steps to break apart a culture of bullying can make your community safer for all children.
Finland has found a proven way to combat bullying. Here’s what it will likely take to make it work in the US
By Dakin Andone, CNN
Updated 1815 GMT (0215 HKT) August 11, 2017
Finland’s celebrated bullying prevention program has seen widespread success, studies are now showing for some time.
Experts say it couldn’t work in the United States yet there is evidence to the contrary.
(CNN)In May, a report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine said young people were staring down a “serious public health problem.” But it wasn’t drugs they were worried about, or alcohol. It was bullying.
Researchers have looked for a way to prevent bullying in American schools for a long time, but the problem isn’t going away, and no one can seem to agree on a creative way to address it.
But Finland has piloted a program that has seen HUGE success in FIGHTING bullying in schools. It’s been translated and licensed to countries across Europe.
But some researchers say it wouldn’t work in the US.
“The United States is a different beast,” said Dorothy Espelage, a psychology professor at the University of Florida who studies bullying and harassment.
What is the program?
The program is called KiVa— short for “kiusaamista vastaan,” which means “against bullying.” The Finnish government helped fund the program’s development and it’s now being used in schools all over the country.
The program was developed by educators and researchers at the University of Turku in western Finland and multiple studies show that it is effectively curbing bullying by focusing on classes as a whole, instead of addressing individual bullies and their victims.
“The idea is that kids bully to gain status and power,” said Julie Hubbard, a psychology professor at the University of Delaware who’s studying KiVa’s effectiveness with American students.
According to its website, KiVa’s program uses lessons and computer games to change that dynamic by placing all the attention on bystanders who witness the bullying.
“If you can get the bystanders to zero in on the victim and not the bully, then bullying is not a very rewarding thing to do,” Hubbard said. They hope that this encourages a culture where bullying is socially unacceptable.
How effective is it?
A 2016 study conducted by researchers at the University of California Los Angeles surveyed more than 7,000 students between the 4th through 6th grades in nearly 80 Finnish elementary schools. About half the schools received KiVa intervention while the others didn’t.
Researchers found the program significantly helps victims of bullying, and data even suggested KiVa could decrease depression in the victims and raise their self-esteem.
Why it falls short for US schools-
- Schools in the US are too diverse
One of the reasons KiVa wouldn’t work is because it wasn’t developed for an group of students as diverse as the US public school system.
“Finnish students are homogeneous economically, racially and culturally,” Espelage, the University of Florida professor, said, “whereas US schools are distinctly diverse on socioeconomic status, ethnicity and religious background.”
According to Espelage, the social inequalities these students face — whether it be race or class — increase the risks of bullying.
If kids have different races and different socioeconomic backgrounds, other kids are more likely to bully them around those issues.
“Kids that are in the minority of the school tend to be victims of bullying,” Espelage said.
According to the National Center of Educational Statistics the average ethnic make-up of American students in 2014 was 50 percent white, 25 percent Hispanic and 16 percent African American. The other nine percent were Asian, Pacific Island, Native American and mixed race backgrounds.
Compare that to UCLA’s study of KiVa, where all but 2.1 percent of the participants were white Finnish students.
- Schools in the US are resource-challenged
Schools in the United States also have many different levels of funding and access to resources, and that problem is even worse in predominantly African American and Hispanic neighborhoods where students are more likely going to poorer schools, Espelage said.
“Education is local,” she said. “There’s not going to be one program that fits all. It’s going to have to be tailored to the context.”
Todd Little, a psychology professor at Texas Tech University, helped conduct an early study of KiVa in Finland, back in 2011. He agreed with Espelage’s opinion of the program, he told CNN. “It worked in Finland but that is specific to the Finnish culture (and perhaps similar cultures),” he said in an email.
- The Teachers are focused on other things
Hubbard, the University of Delaware professor who has finished implementing her trial of KiVa in Delaware, said her data suggests the program can work, even across a variety of races and ethnicities. But the roadblocks to making a program like KiVa work doesn’t lie with the kids, she said. It’s with the teachers.
Her study has not been published yet, but she has shared the racial breakdown of her sample. The children in her study were 49 percent European American, 20 percent Hispanic American and 18 percent African American. Seven percent were of mixed race and six percent were Asian.
She and her colleagues looked at KiVa’s effectiveness across the board to see if they differed by race. “Largely,” she said, “the answer was no, we really did not see differences by child or race ethnicity.”
So if the Teachers can work together to make this type of program get implemented, it will and bullying can start to dissappear in American Schools. If our Teachers are treated better, paid better and given the professional respect our Finland colleagues get, then progress can be made as the community and our students start respecting them more and trusting them more.
Hubbard is more concerned with the differences between Finnish teachers and American teachers.
“Our data suggests that if teachers really implement KiVa it works well in the US for our children,” Hubbard said. “But we had a lot more difficulty getting teachers to do it.”
- We don’t value our teachers as much
KiVa requires teachers to do 10 lessons over 20 hours — that is a big time commitment many US teachers just can’t justify when they are teaching to prepare their students for standardized tests.
Memorize these facts, then spit it out on a test on this date. It’s called teaching to the test.
Another big difference is the value Finnish society places on teachers, Hubbard said. The “best and brightest” become teachers, and they’re placed on the same level as doctors and lawyers, she said. “They value their teachers that way and they pay their teachers that way.”
Finland has one of best educational systems in the world. It insists that its teachers have master degrees and the government provides free access to all levels of education. This way all children of varying socioeconomic backgrounds get equal opportunities, according to a 2015 report by the Paris-based Organization for Economic and Co-operation Development.
Finnish students also have no national standardized tests, the OECD report said.
Teachers in the United States are “bombarded” with expectations, Hubbard said. “They’re supposed to do drug prevention, they’re supposed to do sex education, they’re supposed to do so many things, and bullying prevention is just another thing that’s on the list.”
In Finland, schools placed high value on bullying prevention, and spent a lot of time and energy on it, she said.
What needs to change
- Change the focus of how we teach. We all get more of what we focus on and there needs to be more focus on bullying or our entire public education system is going to crumble around our feet. Our children, the next generation will be left standing or laying in the dust of the aftermath.
In order for bullying prevention programs to work, school districts and administrators have to see that same value, and recognize that it takes time and effort to work.
Nothing worth doing is easy. “It’s not a 30-minute assembly at the beginning of the school year and then you check that box,” Hubbard said.
They also need to understand that the advantage bullying prevention programs have is not just for the well-being of children, but for their academics as well.
“There is such a push on improving academic standards and test scores for our kids,” Hubbard said. “But I think that then these initiatives that have to do with sort of social and emotional learning and developing don’t get as much attention.”
If we are to convince school administrators to see the benefit of these programs, we really have to emphasize that decreasing bullying helps academic performance and test scores, Hubbard said. The entire picture and paradigm shifts in favor of the students and our communities and futures together.
Resources for help-
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Crisis Text Line
Last Thoughts On Bullying
- Moving away from zero-tolerance policies would be a start. My son’s school in Iowa had such a policy and when he was bullied on the school bus, sustaining a minor closed head injury, the principle was not willing to do anything about it until it happened again. Behind him sat a picture with 2 beautiful girls highschool age, his daughters. I asked him, if this happened to your daughters, would you wait for it to happen again? The conversation started going in a different direction at that point. I was so angry but I kept my cool. I did however threaten the school district with a law suit if something wasn’t done NOW!
Experts have for a long time now recommended moving away from zero-tolerance policies and towards evidence-based programs like KiVa. Look at Finland’s results. They speak for themselves.
“Remaining evidence-based is really important,” Hubbard said.
Espelage agreed teachers in the US simply aren’t able to implement a program like KiVa, but agrees that it addresses what she’s found in her research; it’s important to focus on “school climate,” she said, instead of individuals. Make a behavior (bullying) socially unacceptable and it becomes much more difficult to keep having it infiltrate your student body.
She states that anti-bullying advocates focus on funding research that considers the issues of our educational system and the diversity in our schools.
“We know these programs are good if kids can see themselves reflected in the program,” she told CNN.
Both Espelage and Hubbard agreed the burden of solving the issue of bullying in US schools is on researchers and advocates. That includes our school administrators and our Teachers.
Remember if you are a student watching someone bully another student, speak up and say something. Studies have shown us that if you do this, within 10 seconds, you can make it stop. Peer pressure is powerful. Use it for the good of others whenever you can.
I hope you have found this post helpful. Please post any questions or comments below. I will be happy to respond in good time.
Here’s to Empowering you as a parent, fellow student, relative, teacher or school administrator to DO something that works to combat bullying in all places of education and play.
Dr. Leigh Gilburn