Stamp out bullying
By Rhonda A. Blackman | Mon, November 05, 2012 - 12:01 AM
Recent highlighted incidents of bullying in some of our schools have increased an awareness of the high level of bullying among schoolchildren.
Bullying, a behaviour characterized by teasing, taunting, name-calling, threatening, spreading gossip or malicious rumours, hitting and stealing, is normally initiated by one or more students against another. It can also include situations where the student is wilfully “left out”, causing that student to feel isolated.
Parents must not be fooled. Bullying is done by both sexes. However, girls tend to be a bit more subtle than boys, using exclusion and verbal weapons rather than fists and fights.
With the advancement of technology, cyberbullying has become a major force. Some students in the comfort of their homes are sending harassing emails or instant messages, as well as intimidating blogs, striking fear in the hearts of others. They are also impersonating others or posting personal information, photos, or videos with the intention being to hurt, embarrass or destroy.
Bullies attack their victims for a variety of reasons. It may be due to different cultural or religious beliefs, jealousy, high intellect or the perception of being privileged.
There are many factors that might cause children to become bullies. They may have fallen in with the wrong crowd and are being influenced. In their bid to be accepted, they must “walk the walk”. Furthermore, they may have a personality disorder where their emotional and behavioural development has been neglected or starved, and in order to feed this they resort to bullying.
What can parents do?
• Look for the signs. Some children might be afraid to go to school. They may complain of headaches or stomach aches and have trouble concentrating on schoolwork. They might be depressed, have low self-esteem and/or suffer from anxiety. Sad but true, they may cherish thoughts or attempt suicide.
• Some children might even show signs of aggression.
• Talk with your children. Prolonged bullying can cause serious damage to the educational and personal development of children and may cause them psychological distress.
• Communicate concerns to the teacher at once.
Be sure to document all you know about the situation so that you do not forget to mention any important points. Do not exaggerate.
• Find out what action the school intends to take and give it sufficient time to deal with the matter.
• If it is convenient, remove the child from the environment. Get the child a transfer to another school.
Physical punishment is an inappropriate punishment for the bully, for it reinforces that violence is an appropriate solution to any problem. Instead, provide support, supervision and mentoring. If the bully refuses to respond positively to the assistance given, then he or she should be removed to protect the other students.
Parents need to teach their children how to recognize and respond to bullying. When a child complains of being bullied, take action and investigate. It is a matter that should not be taken lightly. Do not leave any “stones unturned”; “get to the root of the matter” before it is too late. Step up and stamp out bullying now!
• Rhonda A. Blackman is an educator, a National Development Scholar and former president of the Early Childhood Association of Barbados Inc. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
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