An issue that is prevalent in our nation’s schools is bullying. Unfortunately Medea Creek has not been unaffected. According to the California Department of Education’s Education Roundup in March of 2011, approximately 35% of our nation’s youth are either a victim or perpetrator of bullying each year. Due to a fear of being bullied, about 8% of student in kindergarten through twelfth grade miss at least one day of school each month.
Bullying is not an arbitrary act rather it is intentional and calculated. Nor is bullying limited to a single occurrence but incidents of bullying will repeatedly occur. The California Department of Education defines bullying as exposing a person to abusive actions repeatedly over time. Bullying becomes a concern when hurtful or aggressive behavior toward an individual or group appears to be unprovoked, intentional, and (usually) repeated. There is also a perceived difference in power between the bully and the child being bullied. What typically occurs is that the child being bullied is picked on constantly by individuals or groups that are considered to be stronger either physically or socially. The bully has some advantage and the goal is to gain power over the child who is the victim. Ultimately, bullying it is about control.
It is also important to be aware that bullying can and does take many direct and/or indirect forms. Direct bullying typically involves physical aggression, such as tripping or hitting. It can also be verbal such as threats or harassment. Indirect bullying tends to deliberately exclude children from groups and can result in social isolation. Bullying can also include constant teasing. A more recent form of bullying that has emerged is electronic bullying in which the internet (Facebook), texting, and email are used. What is also important to note is that bullying can take place on and off school grounds.
Both boys and girls can and do engage in bullying behavior. Whether the bully is a boy or a girl, they share common characteristics such as needing to be in control and poor social judgment. Although it is more typical for a boy to be bullied by another boy, girls can be bullied by both girls and boys. Boys appear to use more direct forms of bullying, while girls tend to be more indirect. Girls will share hurtful information about another child to others versus targeting/bullying another child directly.
There are steps that a parent can take if there is a concern their child is being bullied. First and foremost, TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS. Although it may prove to be difficult, do not attempt to force information out of your child, however it is important to let them know you are concerned that there might be an issue. When your child does share with you there is a bullying issue, do not promise to keep it a secret. Determine how serious the incident is and what steps children has already taken to resolve the problem on their own. If the issue proves to be serious, contact the school. Contacts at Medea Creek include the Medea Creek administration, your child’s counselor, and/or your child’s teachers to work together to resolve the problem. Trust us to work with you and your child to ensure their safety and happiness at school. As a parent, these situations are extremely emotional and difficult. Nothing is more devastating and than seeing your child upset, however it is important to concentrate on solving the situation. Although it might be your first inclination, it is seldom beneficial to confront the parents of the bully or the bully. In many instances it can make the situation worse. Once a plan has been agreed upon and determined that is appropriate for your child, check in with your child and the Medea Creek staff periodically to ensure there no longer continues to be an issue.
BULLYING WEB RESOURCES
(Recommended by the California Department of Education, http://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/ss/se/bullyres.asp)
Cyber Safety for Children
Stop Bullying Now
K-12 RESOURCES ABOUT BULLYING
(Recommended by Jody Kopple in her article, Bullying; The Elephant in the School Yard, the February 1, 2011 School Library Journal, http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com)
The Truth About Truman School by Dori Hillestad Butler (grades 5-8)
Carlos Is Gonna Get It by Kevin Emerson (grades 6-8)
Poison Ivy by Amy Goldman Koss (grades 6 & up)
Max Quigley: Technically Not a Bully by James Roy (grades 4-7)
Teen Cyberbullying Investigated: Where Do Your Rights End and Consequences Begin? By Tom Jacobs. (grades 8 & up)