For a long time, bullying was thought to be a childhood phase, and students had to toughen up and “not take it anymore.” At best, that thinking was naïve; at worst; it was disastrous. Learn How To Deal with Bullies!
Childhood bullying has grave outcomes for bullies and their victims. Bullies whose dark intentions are not addressed or redirected into more positive attitudes and actions slide into a life of violence, crime, and social exclusion. As a result of pattern of aggression or an an intention to harm, a victim can slide into depression and anxiety, which is harmful enough, or devolve into more serious mental health issues, such as an obsession for retaliatory violence against the bully or innocent bystanders.
Bullying must be stopped on the spot, according to the Stop Bullying governmental website. And we can; we are learning how to deal with bullies by redirecting their behaviors into positive, communal, responsible actions.
Every bullying incident is an opportunity to teach safe and constructive behaviors, to send the message that bullying is not acceptable, to protect every child, and to address mental health and behavioral issues.
So, How To Deal with Bullies? According to Stop Bullying you must:
Intervene immediately and assure the safety of everyone.
1. Separate the students and send away bystanders.
2. Address medical or mental health needs.
3. Get the police if a weapon is involved or violence.
4. Watch for intimidation such as racism or homophobia; serious physical injury or sexual abuse; or extortion by using force to get money, property, and services.
5. Report everything.
6. Stay calm.
That’s what you do in the heat of the incident, but leaders want to deal with bullies by prevention and by creating a safe environment for learning.
Bullying is not merely a bump in a queue, it is a series of behaviors that threaten younger or weaker children.
According to the Mayo Clinic, learning how to deal with bullies means redirecting these behaviors:
- Physical includes hitting, tripping, kicking, fighting, the destruction of property, and intimidation or extortion.
- Verbal includes teasing, name-calling, taunting, threatening, gossiping, and inappropriate sexual comments.
- Psychological and social involves spreading rumors, embarrassment and exclusion.
- Cyber-bullying uses an electronic medium to threaten or harm others.
At a camp, six 3rd-graders were in a pod. The teacher asked how many kids were bullied in school. They all raised their hands, had bad experiences in good schools. The National Crime Prevention Council, explains bullying this way: “Children who are bullied are often singled out because of a perceived difference between them and others, whether because of appearance (size, weight, or clothes), intellect, or, increasingly, ethnic or religious affiliation and sexual orientation.”
So what are the risks? The Mayo Clinic, explains how bullied students are susceptible to mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, sleep problems, low self-esteem, and self-harm and suicide. They suffer from impaired academic performance: poor grades because they miss, skip or drop out of school. Children can self-medicate by abusing substances like alcohol and other drugs. A few children are tempted to carry weapons at school. Within that population are a small number of children who wish to retaliate with violence.
It is better to learn how to deal with bullies at multiple levels, assuring that every child is safe and learning to the best of his or her abilities.
In Childhood Bullying: Implications for Physicians, the AAFP publication, James M. Lyznickim, et al, suggests that, “Bullying can lead to serious academic, social, emotional, and legal problems. Studies of successful anti bullying programs suggest that a comprehensive approach in schools can change student behaviors and attitudes, and increase adults’ willingness to intervene. Efforts to prevent bullying must address individual, familial, and community risk factors, as well as promote an understanding of the severity of the problem.”
So where do you start in creating community-wide strategies that address how to deal with bullies?
- Teach pro-social behaviors to every student, every day. Develop anti-bullying workshops, assemblies for reporting bullying activities, how to run to safety, how to talk to parents, teachers, police, how to protect each other. Involve community leaders and parents.
- Assure that there are no un-supervised activities, no out-of-sight areas on the campus.
- Attach thoughtful, effective consequences to bullying behavior and report/record every instance of bullying. Involve the parents. If the bullying includes physical violence, involve the police. Even a hit or a smack is always reported and recorded.
- Develop pods of students so that no child walks or plays alone. Develop non-competitive, supervised games so that every child is included.
- Involve resource officers and school counselors.
- Develop a public information system, parenting classes, and a no-tolerance policy anywhere in the community.
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