DEALING WITH BULLIES 

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VERBAL ABUSE

PHYSICAL ABUSE (click)

from "The Contagiousness of Verbal Abuse" by Jay Carter

TEACH YOUR CHILD TO:

The following variations are also helpful:

To a person who is demanding something, you can say,

These constitute a refusal to interact until the invalidation is removed.

If your child is subjected to verbal abuse, try one or more of the following explanations:

Requests to repeat, reflect on, or remove nasty comments are more than protective responses. They are surefire child-to-child reminders that someone has overstepped the bounds by verbally impinging on another.

Keep your explanation simple, and stick to the basics. With too much commentary, the main points may lose their significance.

PHYSICAL ABUSE

Physical abuse can not be tolerated in public or private institutions.  It should be reported immediately to the teacher.  If the teacher fails to respond adequately it should be reported immediately to the principal, and so on, to the District superintendent and the School Board.

PRE-SCHOOL: Toddlers frequently have no understanding of social boundaries.  Here, it is the responsibility of the pre-school teacher to separate children when pushing or hitting occurs, with the comment, "hitting/shoving is not allowed," and "if you keep hitting I will have to put you in 'time out.'" The third aggression should result in time out for the aggressor, either in a chair or in a separate room for 5 minutes.  Any longer than this is futile since toddlers have little comprehension of time.  Though these children are young, they are very teachable.  The teacher needs to be consistent in applying consequences.  Repetition is essential.  Patience is essential.

Frequently a toddler will become aggressive if he/she is not included in playtime activities.  If other children are shunning a child, the teacher should find ways to help that child feel included, and find children who will accept that child.  No child should be left out to the point that he/she resorts to attention-getting aggression.

Sometimes a toddler may be hyperactive or exceptionally large and strong for his/her age.  It may be necessary for the pre-school to assign an assistant to that child to make sure he/she doesn't harm other children.  Train the assistant to teach the child in a loving but firm way what is allowed and what is not, when interacting with others.  It may be necessary to tell the child 50 times, but all children will eventually learn except those with serious behavior disorders.

In many cases it may be necessary to inform the parent how their child is behaving and enlist their help.  If parents teach their child at home how to interact with other children, by watching when they are playing and offering friendly tips, it can help the child tremendously.  Mom or Dad may need to take a few days off work and take a group of kids to the park or beach (with the necessary help).  Watch how they play and offer advice on friendliness, such as:

The parent can teach the toddler what is expected of him/her at pre-school:

ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: Teach your child to go the teacher and report any hitting, pushing, kicking, or other physical aggression as soon as it happens.   There is no excuse for it.  It means that a parent has utterly failed to teach their child appropriate social skills, or that the aggressor is being abused at home, or that the aggressor has serious physical or mental disabilities.  In any case, the victim and the bully both need help.  The victim should be protected from further abuse at any cost, or that child may lose all faith in humanity.  The bully should be taught consequences, proper social behavior, given counselling and/or medication, or whatever it takes to bring him up to acceptable social behavior.

The bully needs to be told in a firm but kind way:

 The consequences for hurting someone should be:

When bullying is caught at a young age and corrected it is better for everyone concerned.  The victim will learn to trust adults and peers and the bully will learn acceptable actions that will allow him/her to find a place in society.

MIDDLE OR JR. HIGH SCHOOL: Most of the methods used in elementary are also effective in Middle School, however at that age the bullying behavior has become a habit and a personality trait, and may be harder to correct.  In cases of repeated aggression it may be necessary to suspend the bully from school and provide regular, separate counseling for the bully and victims.  Principals or counselors should ask the bully:

"Why do you think it is okay to hit (or whatever they did)?"  Then explain why it is wrong and what the consequences are.   Explain that good behavior will give positive results and poor behavior will give negative results. Ask, "do you want the positive or negative?"  Many bullies come from homes filled with negativity and don't know how to achieve positive life-styles.  Teach them that no matter how bad things are at home, school can still be a positive place.

The victim should be taught assertive defense techniques listed near the top of this page.

HIGH SCHOOL: Fighting and bullying at the High School level are serious offenses and should be handled by the principal and the police.  If you see a fight it is your civic duty to call 911 immediately, or try to break it up if you have backup so you don't become a victim.  Then let the principal know that you are a witness.  If your child sees a fight at school teach them to inform you so you can inform the principal.  If your child is a victim of bullying you should insist on having the bully restrained, an apology, and compensation.  Anything short of this will probably result in further aggression.  If the principal doesn't respond in a manner that ensures the protection of your child then take it to the Superintendent or the School Board.  You are the only who cares enough to make sure your child is safe and it is your job to do whatever it takes (within the law) to make sure that safety is a priority.  If your School Board is unresponsive you can:

For more information go to SCHOOL VIOLENCE.

To report online bullying go to www.wiredsafety.org

For questions about any of this email kidsread@hotmail.com

LETTERS FROM PARENTS AND KIDS (names changed)

Kidsread: Hi. thank you for the information.

 
I met a mom of a 4 yr. old daughter.
The problem is my daughter is a mild mannered child. She does not hit anyone. Not even her 1 year old brother. She  may take toys away from him but never hit him or anyone.
 
My husband and I have noticed that her daughter punches, pull my daughters hair and try to drown her in the pool by pushing her head down in the water and kicking her. The problem is the parents don't say anything. We have avoided them since this happened. The child has even laughed in our face and is very disrespectful.
 
The parents think we are too over protective and that we need to relax and let our kids handle it themselves. I don't believe this is good behavior. I had a best friend that had a daughter that violently hurt my daughter when she was 1 1/2 yrs. old and I never talked to her since this happened. She said the same thing that this mom is saying " that the kids need to work it out on there own"
 
any suggestions?
 
thanks,
worried mom

Linda: In my opinion the response "let them work it out on their own" is from a lazy parent who doesn't want to bother with teaching opportunities.  It is critical that parents teach their children social skills, and the younger the better.  When your children are bullied you may choose to do the following:

For verbal bullying tell your child, "I'm sorry she said that to you.  Maybe you should tell her how it made you feel." This teaches your child to stick up for herself without being a bully, and it teaches the other child that she said something inappropriate.  If the abuse continues, you can say to your child, "I don't feel comfortable with the things (child's name) is saying to you.  Let's move over there and we'll play a game."  In both cases the victim got the attention, not the bully, which is the goal.

For physical bullying you can intervene immediately to protect your child (but do it tactfully).  Some might say that's over-protective.  I say hogwash!  There are plenty of opportunities for life to hurt your child (skinned knees, falls, car accidents, illnesses, broken arms, etc.) without a parent standing by and letting other people's kids do it on purpose. I'm proud to know those who become "mother bears" when their child is threatened, but who also shout praise and encouragement when that child is hitting her first softball or getting her first swimming lesson.

I remember saying to a little boy who pushed my daughter roughly into the water, "I don't like what you just did, and I won't let her play with you unless you tell her you're sorry and promise not to do it again."  This lets the perpetrator know he did something wrong, and teaches your child to forgive and to trust.  His mother actually thanked me for helping her do her job.  Not all parents appreciate it when you intervene, but they should.  The bully needs to learn from somebody what Mama/Papa failed to teach him/her, and the younger the better.  If they don't learn it while they're young then later on they may learn it from the court system.

The violent behavior you mentioned may be an indication of what is happening to that child behind closed doors.  Kids don't invent aggression, they learn it from someone.  If polite confrontation has no effect with these people then your best bet is to avoid them.  Your priority is your child, and your job as a parent is to teach, nurture and protect.  Thanks for being a concerned Mom, and good luck.

Sincerely,

Adrienne Potter, Director

Ms. Potter: Thank you very much for the excellent advice.
 
My husband said the same things you mentioned. I recall seeing Crystal slap and punch at her mom's head at my sons b-day party. I've seen her be mean to the Dad. The mom & dad didn't do anything. My friend did tell me that she broke a new expensive vase in her house. She said she threw it at her husband and that he had his own room to sleep in when she gets angry with him. I met this person at a seminar class. She sent us a birthday invitation to her daughters party in a few weeks. I told my husband I should call the mom up and say my daughter doesn't want to attend because she's afraid of being hurt by your daughter.
 
We've only had 2 encounters with my friends daughter in the past 5 months. I've talked to the girl and told her it's not nice to hit and push my daughter down.  My husband told me that it's a learned behavior that she picked up from her parents. If we do go to the b-day party  I will find a babysitter for my 12 mo. old son. Since her daughter has been rough with him.
 
thanks again for your advice.

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Hey my name is robin and i suffer from bullying at my school by this girl called samantha. She seemes to hold a grudge against me bcoz i accidently sweared at her and no matter how many times i say sorry she tells me i suck and she said im never ever forgiving you and all that.please do you have anyway of solving this?

Bye robin

Robin: Some people enjoy holding a grudge and like bullying.  I hope she doesn't hit you or  hurt you in some way.  If she does you should tell a teacher or counselor immediately.  Samantha needs counseling, but a lot of times bullies are too proud and stubborn to get it. If she is just being mean and insulting you can be assertive.  Say calmly, without malice, "I told you I'm sorry. You need to let it go." Then just keep away from her.  If you have a class with her always go to the opposite side of the class from her.  If she points at you and laughs turn your back and talk to someone else.  Remember, its not your fault that she's a bully.  You have a tough situation, and I hope you have a friend or family member to talk to about it.  My prayers are with you.

Sincerely, Adrienne Potter

Hello i talked to you about 2 months ago about a girl called samantha (my name is robin bye the way) and she still hasnt stopped teasing me.I am standing up for myself the way i should just saying sush up samantha and all that when she says something and then she goes and calls me something like bimbo and shes a bit of a show pony and all that.i still dont know what to do about her can you please give me some more advice.

Thanks from  Robin
 

Robin:  Sorry about getting your name wrong.  You've done everything right so far.  Now it's time to use the big guns.  Print the following, cut it out and give it to her:

VERBAL HARASSMENT (REPEATEDLY USING RUDE AND INSULTING WORDS) AND SLANDER (SAYING INSULTS THAT ARE LIES) ARE AGAINST THE LAW IN EVERY STATE.  YOU AND/OR YOUR PARENTS CAN BE SUED IN CIVIL COURT FOR DOING IT AND LOSE YOUR HOME AND EVERYTHING YOU OWN.   YOU CAN ALSO BE SUSPENDED OR EXPELLED. WHEN YOU GROW UP YOU CAN BE FIRED FROM YOUR JOB FOR DOING IT. 

If that doesn't help her see the light, then it's time to talk to a teacher or a counselor and tell them exactly what's happening, what she is saying, how long she has been doing it, and what you've done to correct it.  If the adult doesn't help you with this please email me their name and the name of your school district.

Also, can I have your permission to use these letters on my website with or without your name?

Sincerely, Adrienne Potter
 

Thnak you for giving me some advice and  yeah you can put my letter on your website with my name. Im a bit scared to give that letter to samantha because her parents are mean and she sulks about things like this and i will have to take all the blame for it and i just feel wierd giving her a letter about bullying her mum will be mean to my mum and all. so are you sure that i should do it?

from robin.

Director, Kids In Danger (K.I.D.)

Robin: Thanks for giving permission to use your letters on our website.  Of course you need to use your own judgment.  If  you don't feel safe giving her that letter then you shouldn't do it, but if she is as scary as you say and her parents are scary too, that is all the more reason to tell a counselor or teacher whom you trust.  You could write down a list of all the times you can remember when the girl has bullied you, listing the date and time, place, what she said, what you said, what she did, and any witnesses you can remember, and take it with you.  If that's too difficult then you can tell the counselor/teacher how long the bullying has been going on and that she has been rude, insulting, mean, and any physical contact she has made with you like shoving, hitting, etc.  If they don't take you seriously then tell them that Kids In Danger (K.I.D.) advised you to do it and to let us know what happens.  Tell the adult they can contact me if they choose at kidsread@hotmail.com or at 714-782-7134.

The main point is that bullying should never be allowed in any school, and if the adults at your school don't deal with it properly then it needs to be brought to the attention of your Principal, School Superintendent, School Board, the State School Board, and the US Dept. of Education.

Again, I'm sorry that you're having to experience this.  Remember that it is not your fault when someone singles you out to pick on.  Remember to not use any of the language she uses, and don't copy her behavior when dealing with her.  Just be strong and stick up for yourself firmly, but calmly.  She wants to get you upset, and if you refuse to let her bother you then you have won and she has lost. This experience can make you stronger, but you shouldn't have to deal with it all by yourself.

Sincerely, Adrienne Potter, Founder, KID
 

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