Saturday, May 14, 2011

TOP FAQs from parents of bullied children

·      Why do bullies bully?
o   The answer can be any number of motivating factors. In the end, bullies crave power and social currency. Bullies frequently take advantage of children who are more timid/less confident, but just as frequently target other children out of jealousy, vendettas, compulsiveness or simply capriciously.
o   For the record, there is never a “reason” for bullying. Bullies choose to bully and typically have unhealthy motivations in their own life for doing so.

·      How do I know it is bullying?
o   Glad you asked: While many folks want bullying to be difficult to define, so that they can delay solutions due to the challenge in defining it, it really is simple:
§  Whenever one child has demonstrated that a behavior from another child is making them uncomfortable or has asked that child to stop a behavior for the same reason, and the child does not, on the second occasion it is bullying. Period.

·      What are the signs a child is being bullied?
o   Really, it can be overall anxiousness or any/all of the following:
§  Frequent stomachaches or headaches
§  More somber moods
§  Avoiding social occasions
§  School work declining
§  Looking down frequently
§  Eating habits changing: less or more
§  Agitated; negative; jumpy
§  Sleeping issues
§  Increased moodiness
§  Nightmares

·      Once I know it’s bullying, whom do I contact first?
o   First, be sure you have all the facts
o   Contact the top administrator at school
o   Make sure the administrator speaks to the bully as well as to the bully’s parents clearly about the issue and next steps

·      If all common sense solutions don’t work at the school level, what should I do?
o   There are many more invasive options beyond working with the school. Briefly, here are a few examples:
§  Call the superintendent and all of the school board members (if you request a meeting, they must honor it).
§  Visit your local law enforcement for ideas (sometimes a calm objective, yet unofficial visit from an officer will get a bully’s attention and they will stop).
§  Inquire about protection at the local/county civil rights office. They will call your school quickly and begin a thorough investigation.
§  Talk to an attorney who specializes in children’s issues or bullying. Google is your friend here.
§  Consider switching schools. Most states have laws that dictate, if the public school cannot provide a safe learning environment, they must pay for another school out of district including your child’s transportation.

·      Are there any “never-do’s” parents should know about?
o   Never, ever allow the school to perform “peer to peer resolution, ” it simply re-victimizes the bullied child by forcing him to face his attacker and get bullied again.

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