Anti-Bullying for Parents & Educators

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by Dr. Julie McDanielConsultant, Student Safety and Well-Being Advanced Certified Trauma Practitioner and Trainer, Oakland Schools

PARENTS AND SCHOOLS working together provide the united front necessary to reduce bullying. Both educators and parents have powerful online resources available to them; however, parents may not be aware of these resources or know how to access them.

VIEW > Just How Prevalent is Bullying in MICHIGAN?

The US Department of Education site, stopbullying.gov, provides a wealth of information for awareness, prevention, and intervention. While many sites provide toolkits and action plans, the stopbullying.gov site starts at awareness and lists possible warning signs that children are being bullied. The following are some warning signs from a very comprehensive list:

  • Lost or destroyed clothing, books, electronics, or jewelry
  • Frequent headaches or stomach aches, feeling sick or faking illness
  • Difficulty sleeping or frequent nightmares
  • Declining grades, loss of interest in schoolwork, or not wanting to go to school
  • Sudden loss of friends or avoidance of social situations

Another valuable online resource is the site for the National PTA‘s program Connect for Respect (C4R) that promotes proactive and responsive parental involvement in schools.  The C4R is a research-based approach in building strong relationships in schools. These strong relationships are the building blocks in safe and supportive learning environments where bullying cannot flourish. Again, parents and educators are working together to keep our children safe and healthy.

Finally, the National Education Association has tools specifically for parents and educators. The ABC’s of Bullying reminds us that bullying can occur anywhere. The article For Parents: If a Child Complains of Being Bullied provides warning signs and early steps for parents to take before the school is involved. It suggests questions to ask to confirm suspicion of bullying.

VIEW> Criteria for the BEST Bullying Prevention Programs

Educators are starting to grasp the critical importance of the caring relationship between every student and at least one adult in school. We also understand that healthy and supportive relationships are at the core of a strong and caring learning environment. Most importantly, we know that bullying cannot flourish in those positive, supportive schools.

Having the parents as partners in this effort is vital to its success.

As the US Department of Education states, “Parents play critical roles in addressing and preventing bullying.” Parents’ concern, influence and responsibility are unparalleled. Once parents are fully AWARE of the bullying problem, the next step is ACTION.

shutterstock_344342666Stan Davis, founder of the Stop Bullying Now, ith Charisse Nixon, Professor at Penn State Behrend, compiled their experience with the voices of 13.000 students in Youth Voice Project: Student Insight into Bullying and Peer Mistreatment. They provide valuable advice for parents who believe their child is being bullied or mistreated. The first important step is to assess the severity of the mistreatment.

1) If the behavior is MILD and has little impact on the well-being of the child, parents should advise their child to ignore the behavior, stay away from the person mistreating them, and/or ask the person to stop.

2) If the behavior continues or is MODERATELY SEVERE, parents should begin documenting the mistreatment with dates and other details. They should brainstorm together possible solutions after identifying the strategies the child has used to that point. Parents may then approach the school, making contact with the teacher first and then the principal. The meetings should be focused on the documented mistreatment and existing school policy/response to bullying.

3) If the behavior is SEVERE, parents may need to approach officials with documentation of the events and the impact as a first step of action. They should work with school officials in matters of school-based bullying and outside officials, perhaps law enforcement, with bullying that occurs in the community. If the child continues to show signs of trauma, including sleeplessness and anxiety, a physician or mental health professional will be of great assistance.

VIEW> EVERYONE Plays a Role in a Bullying Situation

One of the most important pieces of advice for parents and a most challenging one to achieve is to remain calm. Being calm when talking to school and outside officials will allow the problem and the details surrounding it to be presented in a non-threatening manner. Staying calm when talking with your child about the incident will help to draw out the facts necessary to address the problem.
Most importantly, remaining calm will help to quiet the upset child. By modeling this, the parent is also helping the child build resilience and inner strength, a positive outcome from a traumatic situation. ~~~

MORE RESOURCES

KEEP READING! Dr. Julie McDaniel will be posting regularly throughout October on anti-bullying measures.

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Blog Editor Jean MacLeod, Communications/Oakland Schools

AND… MORE about OAKLAND SCHOOLS

 Oakland Schools • 2111 Pontiac Lake Road • Waterford, MI 48328-2736 • 248.209.2000

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