October 23, 2014
You may remember times when kids were bullied and not much was said about it. Popular explanations then—it was just teasing; or a part of growing up; or while it might hurt for a while, you’ll get over it. Years of research and study have borne out two facts: bullied kids can be adversely affected emotionally and psychologically for the remainder of their lives; and bullies don’t grow out of their behavior without counseling or therapy. Bullying can start as early as preschool, usually peaks during middle school, and declines during high school. Children who continue to bully into their high school years have a one in four chance of having a criminal record by the age of 30.
October is National Anti-bullying Month. At Saint Luke School our “Bully Free” program begins in kindergarten with story book guidance lessons on respect, consideration of others, self control, etc. In grades 1-3 a bullying vocabulary is introduced and fictitious stories are read and discussed which help the students differentiate between bullying and teasing. Students also discover how and why bullies do what they do, learn ways to stop from being bullied and when to seek help from teachers and parents. During the 4th and 5th grade, students are immersed in the real world of the bully. They discuss the four types of bully behavior, what specific affects being bullied could have on them, and take a quiz to insure they can separate facts from myths. They analyze the “bullying circle” which illustrates eight different roles students play in a bullying situation. Most importantly, they learn that taking the role of an “Upstander” is the best way for them to stand up to any bullying in their class. Students are also asked to record the types of good and bad behaviors they encounter during a typical school week and discuss their findings in class. Through role playing they develop their self confidence, resourcefulness, and assertiveness. In middle school, students learn advanced bullying strategies and related topics such as handling difficult friendship problems, bad and good peer pressure, making bad snap decisions during first encounters, and knowing who their real friends are. As part of the diocese Christian Awareness of Respect for Everyone (C.A.R.E.) middle school students also receive instruction the meaning, rules, and reporting procedures regarding sexual harassment. The success of the Bully Free programs is evaluated through student, teacher and parent surveys in the fall and spring.
At home parents should become concerned about bullying when they observe the following child behaviors that cannot be explained otherwise:
-Increased passivity or withdrawal
-Recurrent complaints of physical symptoms such as stomach- or headaches with no apparent cause
-Sudden drop in grades or other learning problems
-No wanting to go to school
-Significant changes in social life
-Sudden negative change in the way your child talks about himself or his friends
If you believe your child is being bullied at school or through cyber networking, please contact his/her teacher immediately. A close partnership between parents and the school faculty is critical for maintaining an effective defense against bullying.
School Counselor, MA