Aggressive, intimidating behavior using physical, verbal, or social means to hurt someone, bullying affects over half of school-age children at some time. It can happen anywhere; at school, on the bus, or on the playground to name a few. Electronic technology gives a bully more ways to torment a victim with mean texts, emails, or posts on social media sites, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Posts can be anonymous and spread quickly. News reports of suicidal children make it clear just how devastating this sort of psychological attack can be.
What Are Schools Doing?
Title 16, Chapter 28B, of Alabama’s Code, describes the State’s response to this grave issue, recognizing that bullying has no place in the educational system. The State Department of Education provided a model anti-harassment policy for each school to implement and developed a website (http://alex.state.al.us/stopbullying/) with resources for student, parents, and teachers to use. Administrators must investigate any claim of bullying and administer punishment for offenders. Schools are tasked with teaching acceptable behavior.
The website developed by the State Department of Education has creative tools for helping kids identify bullying behaviors and develop strategies to deal with it.
What Families Need To Do?
It isn’t solely the school’s responsibility to teach youngsters how to be civil. Parents and guardians need to be in the forefront by starting early and setting good examples. Teach children how to interact with each other and express themselves confidently so they are less likely to become victims. Teach children to put themselves in another’s shoes, so they learn empathy. Educate children about online safety and monitor electronic communications.
Parents must be alert to signs of trouble and quickly follow up. A bullied child may show signs of depression or withdrawal with a reluctance to attend school. A bully may be fighting, getting detentions, hanging out with other bullies, or blaming others for their problems. Parents should talk to their children and find out what is happening. Excellent tools listed on the State of Alabama’s website (http://alex.state.al.us/stopbullying/node/8) help parents start the conversation and make school a safe learning environment. Children’s lives depend on it.