This is my second post on “Bullies.” My first was how to help your child from being a bully: “Bully Proof Your Child–It Starts At Home.”
So this post is on how to cope with Bullies outside of the Home. (Home has its own variety of bullies, but that is for another post). We typically think that our children are most frequently bullied at school. Please be aware, bullies are on buses, in public parks, in movie theaters–you get the picture–wherever there are people, there can be bullies.
My favorite offering for how to cope with bullies comes from a true story.
A new kid in school began to receiving the kind of attention from two older students that went from annoying to fearful. What started as put-down’s and teasing whispers in class, became a kind of stalking in the cafeteria and in halls during passing period. The new kid finally tells parents about the concern, trying really hard to not “make a big deal about it.” There is an inherent fear that if a parent gets involved at school, that things will only GET WORSE.
Fortunately, this school had trained personnel for “Conflict Resolution.” After reporting parental concerns to the school, the school immediately followed up in the following manner:
- School quickly assessed the concern, speaking with teachers and being watchful.
- Within two days, all the students and their parents were invited to attend a Conflict Resolution meeting, facilitated by the trained school personnel.
- One of the bullying students refused to come, as did his parents. The school personnel told them that although it was not mandatory, the information gained from the meeting could be applied to additional students. They still refused to attend.
- On the day of the Conflict Resolution meeting, held directly after school, when almost all the kids had left the school, all parties were placed in a classroom in a circle of chairs.
- It took a lot of courage, but the victim was able to face the bullying student and tell the student what he had done and how it made her feel.
- The bullying student was asked to speak, with very little to say. No one asked him or “lead” him to say anything. At that point he seemed defensive and in a refusal mode.
- And then the facilitator had each of the invited parents speak regarding this type of behavior. There were two teachers at the meeting and they spoke of their observations and feelings.
- By the time the bullying student was allowed to speak again, he was a changed person. A more contrite person who seemed to have a sense of understanding of how he had victimized the new student.
- By the end of the meeting, it appeared that the bully would no longer be engaging in bullying behavior, with support by everyone to be more compassionate towards others.
- I understood that the other bully, who did not attend the meeting, did have a mandatory meeting with his parents and the school personnel.
- I can say that the new student never complained of further bullying; in fact, she became friendly with the student who had attended the Conflict Resolution meeting.
Bully’s do not like to be exposed. It is crucial that parents are a part of these school proceedings. It is also crucial that school personnel have training in how to handle Conflict Resolution meetings, as success is defined by reducing the negative emotionality, while providing continuing safety for all.
Schools need to have Anti-Bullying programs in place, trained personnel and a determination to teach students how to achieve success in understanding and implementing responsible choice-making around bullying.
There are several programs that are used within schools. As long as the above criteria are met for the workings of the program, the school will be at an advantage for helping both victims and perpetrators.
Be gentle with your child, seeing all children as part of your responsible world as an adult and parent.