On top of being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, October also holds the distinction of being Bullying Awareness Month. As the staff and teachers at this school can assure you, this is a very important topic to be aware of both for students and teachers, but also for parents. Helping parents be more aware about this topic is one of our goals for this month along with working with students to be prepared to handle bullying not only in their lives, but also in others. So as we stand up to help out, we ask our community of parents and students to stand with us and help us STOMP OUT BULLYING.
As Carter and Katz found in their research back in 2003, roughly 98 in 100 students will be victims of bullying at some point in time or another throughout their schooling career. However, the scary trend of this is that it frequently goes unnoticed and students do not make adults aware of the situation. Only 11% of the respondents stated that they went to their parents with this information for their assistance (Rocha, 2013). Although we want to ensure that our students are safe when they are online, at school, and elsewhere, bullying is a growing issue and it is critical that parents are aware of warning signs and preventative measures that can be taken to ensure your child is prepared for this. It is also important that we ensure our children understand what bullying is. As Merriam Webster defines bullying, "to frighten, hurt, or threaten (a smaller or weaker person)." Additionally, bullying is the intentional targeting of an individual student by another student or a group of students. Finally, these students must be in a position of power over this student. Many times, situations are called bullying, that do not truly meet the definitions of bullying. Although we want to handle all these situations, it is critical that students understand the differences between a conflict and bullying.
1) Child appears sad, moody, or anxious
2) Child want to avoid school
3) Child withdraws from or shows a lack of interest in social activities
4) Child experiences a drop in grades or a decline in academic performance
5) Child appears upset after being online or using the computer
6) Child appears upset after viewing text messages of using the phone
These warning signs are important to keep an eye on to ensure that we can talk to the students if something is happening. Many times, the kids will not want to go to someone about this, but if we can approach them about the bullying, then hopefully we can get them to help us be aware of the situation. Many students do not have the maturity to handle this on their own and so we can assist them in many ways.
1) Do not allow children access to social media accounts until they are mature enough to handle them.
- Most social networking websites specifically require parent permission for people to get an account. In addition, they do not allow children under the age of 13 to have an account. Even though these restrictions are in place, roughly 50% of students have Facebook or other social media accounts. Most of these kids do not have the maturity to handle the information and activities that occur on Facebook.
2) Be aware of what your children are doing online
- As stated above, many children already have these accounts. Additionally, many kids use interactive gaming as a way of connecting with friends. The majority of bullying that occurs at this age is occurring through these interactive games.
3) Establish rules for electronic use
4) Understand the school rules for technology and bullying
Prevention is the best way to avoid bullying. Students who practice safety when online or off are less likely to deal with bullying. By practicing the above techniques, plus many more, parents can help minimize the amount of bullying that students may deal with throughout their school careers.
For more information, please see the references below.