Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Yes bullying occurs at summer camps and can be stopped

It would be nice to think that bullying stops when school stops. Unfortunately, the children that bully during the school year are very impulsive and compulsive and will continue to bully in whatever environment they are placed.

How does a child deal with bullying at a summer camp?  First do not ignore bullying, it will get worse if you do not address it. Again, as always, with some experimenting bullies, ignoring it once or twice may work, but frequently does not.

Have a talk with your child before camp starts.  Role play responses that include humor, taking the bully aside and asking them to stop and of course, telling the bully directly to stop in a directed fashion. Share with your child that they should make friends with kids right away in order to insulate them from the bullies.

Similarly, ask your child to work at not getting upset when the bully starts in. IT IS VERY HARD, but encourage them if they stay calm and firm. In many cases it dissuades the bully from continuing. That does not mean ignore it.  It means communicating to the bully that they are merely irritating and rude, but not affecting your child's self esteem.

Remind your child that if they let it go on past the first couple of days, it will only get worse. Confiding in an adult and requesting that the bully is spoken to clearly about stopping the bullying, stop talking about the bullied child and the episode immediately. Also, a  consequence should be given on the first strike.

Key tips for your child:

-Find a go-to person in each session ) could be a friendly camp counselor)
-Stay with a safe group
-Try to diffuse the situation with humor
-Look directly at the bully and give them a look that lets them know their behavior is not acceptable
-Let the bully know they are rude, but do not get upset
-If you immediate escape is needed, request to see the nurse
-Tell a camp counselor
-Tell your parents

Tips for parents once your child has shared that he is being bullied:

-Make it clear to the camp administrator that you want this taken care of in 24 hours
-Request that the following occur immediately:

          -The bully is taken aside and told that several adult have been observing his bullying
          -Make it clear it will not be tolerated
          -Make it clear that they must stop bullying, stop talking about the bullied child or any of the
           bullying activity immediately
          -List a clearly laid out set of consequences if it happens again
          -Let the bully know on the second strike their parents will be called immediately
          - Provide a mild but clear consequence on the first strike
          -On second strike, the bully will be forced to do inside the camp community service
           -Make certain that if the bully recruits others to bully the victim, parents will be called  

During this time, make certain your child knows that, this in no way, is this  his fault. Bullying is anti-social, abnormal behavior. The bully has the issue, not your child.

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