· 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
· 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.