Back to School: Stop Bullying Before it Starts!

(Oringainally posted in the sgrouples blog.)

 

“We’ve got to dispel the myth that bullying is just a normal rite of passage or an inevitable part of growing up.” - It Get’s Better, Barack Obama

 

It’s back to school time again! We want so much for our kids as they return to classes – We want them to enjoy learning, pay attention to their teachers, make quality friends…and not get into any trouble.

We also hope that they don’t hurt themselves or each other; physically, emotionally, or otherwise. According to Lori Tagger of St. Anthony’s Medical Center, “Bullying is not some harmless phase of childhood; it can do a lot of damage to the victim and have lifelong consequence.” My goal is always to prevent problems before they start.

Here are some tips for parents and kids to help keep everyone feeling good and stop bullying from all sides.

1. Communicate

Talk with your child about what happens during their days at school. Have you ever asked them about bullying? Opening up the conversation with your kids and their friends is a good place to start.

Ask if they’ve they seen or experienced bullying. Do they have ideas for avoiding or preventing it this year? Get them thinking…Check in with your kids, their friends, their teachers, and other parents throughout the year. And above all, let your child know that you care and that you are there to help and support them.

2. Teach

  • Confidence and compassion.
  • Being nice and being a good friend.
  • Being assertive – Tell them to speak up if they see bullying and not to just go along with something if they don’t think it’s right.
  • Standing up for oneself – They should look people in the eye, but not engage bullies.
  • Keeping one’s head up.
  • Walking away if someone confronts them.
  • Don’t take things personal. (Teach and live by the Four Agreements.)

The East Hampton-Portland Patch states, “Encourage your child to keep their chin up, look into the eyes of whomever they are speaking with, speak in a strong confident voice and walk with confidence. If your child has problems in these areas, (try) character building activities like the martial arts…”

3. Lead By Example

Check behavior at home and demonstrate respect for all people. A bullied child is more likely to perpetuate bullying behavior, possibly in an attempt to regain a sense of power.

More on Cyberbullying:

Wikipedia defines cyberbullying as, “an aggressive, intentional act or behaviour that is carried out by a group or an individual repeatedly and over time against a victim who cannot easily defend him or herself.”

And “(Pier M.) Forni of Johns Hopkins’ Civility Initiative says the onslaught of rude, bullying and uncivil behavior—intensified by the 24/7 reach of the Internet and social-networking sites such as Facebook—adds to the stress people are already feeling and can translate into real and very tragic consequences” (Diversity Inc.).

Avoid Cyberbullying by staying in the know about your kids’ online profiles and communications. Talk to them about the things you want them to avoid online, and let them know that you want to be aware of strange or inappropriate behavior. Make sure they understand that they will not be punished for telling an adult about inappropriate behavior that they encounter online.

How to Protect Your Child From Cyber Bullying

 

Teach kids about the dangers that lurk online. Tell them the dangers of interacting with strangers online and explain that things are not always what they seem. If kids are making new friends online, let them know they should never give out personal information.

Private sites like Sgrouples are a great place for young people and schools to connect with much more control, safety, and security for our kids. There is no opportunity for strangers to contact a Sgrouples user, and a user’s permissions and connections can always be changed and edited. On Sgrouples, someone can completely “walk away” and disconnect from an internet bully.

Here are some more ways that Sgrouples Can Stave off Cyberbullying!

 

More Bullying Stats:

From Forbes.com

  • “Surveys have estimated that between 9% and 34% of kids have experienced cyberbullying in some way over the course of a year, with about 16% targeted monthly or more often.”
  • “A 2007 ISK national survey of more than 1,200 kids ages 11 to 16 found that, of the 30% of children who said they’d been bullied in the last year, 13% reported it happened on the Internet. Of that number, one-third of kids reported that the experience was very or extremely upsetting.” 

In Depth: How To Stop Cyber-Bullying

From St. Anthony’s Medical Center:

  • “Approximately 30% of youth in the U.S. are estimated to be involved in bullying either as a target, a bully, or both. More than 88% of junior high and high school students say they have witnessed bullying in their schools.”
  • “One third of teens using the Internet have been bullied and 75 percent have visited a site bashing another student.”
  • “Girls are twice as likely to be both victims and perpetrators.”
  • “Ninety percent of middle school students have had their feelings hurt online, and 60 percent never told their parents about the incident.”
  • “67 percent of bullying happens when adults aren’t around.”
  • “Thirty-five to 40 percent of former bullies have three or more criminal convictions by age 24.”

 
“Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life, but define yourself.” – Harvey Fierstein
It’s easy to read, think, and believe this mantra, but as a young person heading back to school this can be easier said than done. I hope this post helped you to start the conversation.

I would love to hear your ideas and thoughts about how we can all prevent bullying in school and online! Feel free to share your comments below or tweet to us @sgrouplesmama & @sgouplesblog.

More Resources:
Tips on ‘Bullyproofing’ Your Child for the New School Year
StompOutCyberbullying.org
How to Protect Your Child from Cyber-Bullying
How To Stop Cyber-Bullying
projectcivility.rutgers.edu

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