Committee for Children Blog

A Story About Bullying: Part 3

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I offer one final series of reflections on the subject of my last two blogs; the bullying situation of Connor and his parents. Here are some thoughts and comments that have flooded my mind as Connor’s parents and I continue to stay in touch. They are important to share, especially with those of you who may be having similar experiences yourselves, or with your children or students.

Connor’s future school experiences are yet unknown, and while we can’t predict what will happen next, his parents continue to commit time and effort toward learning about bullying prevention, and determining helpful ways to support their son.

I am glad to report that they are sharing ideas with him on how to assertively stand up to the bullying, and what to do if he feels unsafe doing so. They talked with him about the difference between bullying and tattling, and about what bullying really is (they are concerned that he will now think that every negative behavior is bullying). He has identified other strategies to use, such as choosing a different seat away from those who bully him or, at recess, playing where an adult is nearby. Connor also walks with other friends in the hallway so he is not alone.

When Connor first told his parents what was happening, he was worried that the teacher would tell the students who were bullying him that he reported the situation. He was also initially very upset about the parent-teacher meeting. From the beginning, his parents have continued to assure him that his reports are confidential. Retaliation is a legitimate concern in bullying situations, and if someone feels those who bully may find out, they may not report.

Yet, little has been done with consequences in Connor’s case. Creative options are available. Students who engage in bullying can present to a different class about the negative effects of bullying, read a book and write a report on the consequences of bullying, write an apology letter to those they bullied, create a written plan on three things they could have done differently, or make a list of nice things they could do for others. Regardless of the consequence used, students who bully need frequent follow-up, and the environment needs to be set up so it is difficult for them to bully again (bystanders, consistent adult responses to bullying, adult supervision, reporting procedures, etc.).

Over these last three blogs I’ve addressed many important bullying prevention components such as: having procedures and policies for addressing bullying situations, consistency, social skills curricula, empathy, effective consequences, making sure others feel safe reporting, follow-through, assertiveness, friendship skills, and bystanders. If you are looking for a place to start, some of these resources may also be useful:

·         www.stopbullying.gov (resources on what bullying is, cyberbullying, how to prevent and respond to bullying, and getting help)

·         www.cfchildren.org (has bullying prevention resources, including Steps to Respect and a Bullying Prevention Unit that aligns with the Second Step social skills curriculum)

·         www.edutopia.org/bullying-resources (many different resources and videos about bullying in schools; if you google “edutopia” and “bullying prevention” various resources can be found)

·         http://www.pacer.org/bullying/nbpm/ (National Bullying Prevention Center)