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What Every Parent Needs to Know About Identifying and Stopping School Bullying & How to Empower Their ChildMarch 7, 2017
by Hilary Smith
In the late ‘90s, the shootings in Jonesboro and Columbine gained the media’s attention to school violence and irreparably damaged parents’ perception of the educational walls as a harbor of safety and sanctuary for their children. School violence now encompasses not just the most extreme cases of violence and terror but also the everyday events that don’t always warrant a news story. Bullying—both physical and mental—is the everyday form of violence and horror that many students experience on a daily basis.
According to the National Center on Education Statistics, about one in five students is a victim of bullying. Social media and its popularity among the millennial generation has made bullying and abuse not only easier but sometimes untraceable. Popular apps like Yik Yak allow kids to post comments anonymously and without care.
Cyber bullying is stealthy and dangerous. This type of bullying encompasses everything from hurtful rumors and name calling to sharing and posting inappropriate images with malicious intent. In some cases—like the case of Megan Meier—the bully isn’t even a child but a parent.
Bullying in all forms destroys a child’s self-esteem, can cause depression, fear anxiety and can even lead to suicide attempts. However, parents and educators are not powerless to stop bullying and help victims.
HOW TO REPORT BULLYING
Parents should be proactive by watching out for warning signs that their child is a victim of bullying. According to an article from PBS, some of the warnings signs of bullying include a fear of going to school (or the bus), changes in school performance, wetting the bed, nightmares, stomach aches, and talks of suicide.
If a child is a victim of bullying, parents must intervene. Children often feel that they are alone in the fight, and also harbor a fear that speaking up about the abuse will make the situation worse. However, kids cannot fight this battle alone.
Dealing with a bully situation requires diligence on the part of parents. Stomp Out Bullying advises parents to get all the facts of the incidents first…then call the school and ask to meet with the principal. Stay calm and provide all the details and facts. After meeting with administrators, it’s also a good idea to send a follow up note to thank them for the meeting and perhaps even reiterate what was discussed at the meeting. Documented emails are always good to have on hand.
Parents also need to follow-up with their child to ensure the issue has been resolved. If the bullying continues, email the administrator stating additional concerns. If the administration fails to act, go higher up to the superintendent of the school. And, if all else fails, contact the police.
HELPING A CHILD HEAL
Even after the bullying has stopped, a child may still suffer effects of the abuse. Low self-esteem or depression may be experienced. Some children feel comfortable confiding in parents about their feelings or fears. However others might need additional therapy from licensed counselor or therapist to help heal the wounds.
Children also might lean on silent companions like pets for comfort and support. Pets are often seen as perfect confidants for children, as they don’t judge and always provide a listening ear and unconditional love and affection. Some schools even use therapy dogs to help victims of bullying and to help instill a sense of empathy in the bullies themselves.
Parents may look into adopting a pet for a child to help encourage empathy or to provide their child with a devoted companion. Some of the best breeds for children include Labrador Retrievers, poodles, Golden Retrievers and small terriers like the Norwich Terrier.
MOVING FORWARD AND TAKING A STAND
While parents cannot always prevent a child from becoming a victim of bullying they can empower children to stand against bullying and to always speak up. The biggest weapon a child has against bullying is their voice. If they see another child being bullied, teach them to speak up and speak out Empower them to tell a teacher or another trusted adult.
Bullies rely on silence and fear tactics and feel powerful in the process. There is, however, power in groups. And the more kids unite to speak out against the bully, the less power that bully has to continue the abuse pattern.
Together, parents and kids can help end bullying and return schools back to a safe sanctuary for all students.
Sprigeo is pleased to have been selected by the Oregon State Police as the primary vendor for SafeOregon, a new school safety tip line program available to all public K-12 schools in Oregon at no cost to use. SafeOregon requires schools to complete a sign-up process in order for students to use.
Sprigeo provides tip-line services and school safety resources to over 4,500 schools across 29 states in an ongoing effort to promote school safety. Over the past 6 years, Sprigeo has been fortunate to have built relationships with school leaders and nationally recognized experts that have shared strategies and expertise with their growing network of school districts. Sprigeo CEO and Founder, Joe Bruzzese shared, “Kids and teens should feel safe at school. I’m proud that we can partner with the state of Oregon on the SafeOregon program. Oregon has taken incredible steps to ensure the safety of their students.”
SafeOregon is a way for students, staff or other members of the public to anonymously report and share confidential information of a threat or a potential threat to student safety. Trained staff are available 24-hours-a- day, 365-days-a-year reached through a phone call, text message, mobile application or website. The main goal of SafeOregon is to intervene at the earliest possible point in the life of a young person who is struggling, helping them when they need it, before the situation turns into a tragedy.
SafeOregon is designed to encourage Oregon students to share and respond to anything that threatens their safety or the safety of others, anything that makes a student feel unsafe or if a student knows someone who feels unsafe. Here are a few examples: safety threats, violence, threats of violence, fights, drugs, alcohol, weapons, bullying or friends that talk about hurting themselves, harassment, intimidation, cyber bullying, or self-harm.
Jodi Sherwood, Oregon State Police SafeOregon Project Manager quote: “Sprigeo has a proven solution, easily scalable to fit Oregon’s need for a statewide approach. We are pleased to work with a vendor who has taken the time to understand the different needs of our state and work with us on the opportunities to improve school safety in a bolder, more proactive way helping our students achieve success.”
Tips can be submitted 24/7/365 through the SafeOregon.com web portal, by e-mail to email@example.com, through the SafeOregon mobile application (available for android or iOS device), or by calling or texting 844- 472-3367. Tips are promptly analyzed and routed for the most appropriate follow up and urgency. This may be to school officials, law enforcement, community mental health programs or other appropriate local or state agencies. Tip Line staff make sure follow-up is noted and recorded.
SafeOregon – the school safety tip line – became Law through HB 4075 (2016), as a result of recommendations from the Oregon Task Force on School Safety charged with improving safety and security at schools across the state. The task force was established by House Bill 4087, bringing together representatives from police, fire, school administration, teachers, school boards and service districts, along with the Governor’s education and
public safety policy advisors, and legislators. The task force is chaired by Clackamas County Sheriff Craig Roberts and Dr. David Novotney Willamette Education Service District.
For more information, visit www.safeoregon.com. The resource page has more information for students, parents and for schools to sign-up. Students are encouraged to talk to their school administration about making SafeOregon available in their school.
It is a violation of ORS165.570 to improperly use the SafeOregon system.
By Hilary Smith
The age old expression, “kids will be kids,” relates to the many examples of times that we shouldn’t expect our children to act like adults in almost any given situation, especially in social settings. When the majority of us were young, teasing and playground pranks were simply a part of growing up, but with the rise of today’s technology, we’re seeing some frightening statistics when it comes to being intimidated as a youngster, especially on the internet.
While this unfortunate part of childhood was once contained to a schools, playgrounds or local neighborhoods, these days some of these harsh realities are being played out and then shared and spread to hundreds, thousands or even millions of people online. According to some studies, the rates and incidences of cyberbullying have tripled over the past few years and some of the effects are crippling to children affecting them in some very dangerous ways:
- 83% of kids feel that bullying has damaged their self esteem
- Around 75% of children believe that bullying has harmed their social life
- 30% of victims have turned to self harming behaviors from enduring this abuse
- Attempting suicide has been reported by 10% of victims
Since children learn from what they see and experience, another 7% of kids have resorted to bullying other children as a result of being tormented themselves at home.
EDUCATION & PROTECTION
As parents, we all want to protect our children from harm, but we can’t be there for them 24/7, so the best that we can do is educate them and attempt to prepare them for the real world. The younger the potential victim, the more difficult it can be to explain this concept to children, but Kid’s Health offers this advice for explaining why bullying happens in the first place:
- Many are being bullied at home
- Some children want to feel in control
- Others may be seeking a victim
Perhaps some children believe that by belittling others they will somehow feel important, give them a sense of being superior or that they will become more popular as a result. Even worse, many forms of today’s media, from popular television sitcoms to the big screen, are portraying name-calling and shouting insults as a part of everyday, normal life.
BECOMING BETTER THAN THE BULLY
Some of our parents may have told us how “sticks and stones will break our bones, but words will never hurt us,” but being bullied and the resulting emotional harm it causes can be just as devastating as physical pain. In this light, it’s up to us as parents to build up our child’s self-esteem, confidence and a sense of self-worth to prepare them for this type of verbal assault.
Therefore, it’s important for us to reiterate some of our own parent’s advice and remind our children that many examples of being bullied are simply words and not the actual truth so they shouldn’t be taken in that type of context. That’s why it’s so important to keep an open dialogue with our children, and here’s where it get’s tricky. For example, when you ask your child “how was school,” don’t take “fine” for an answer, dig deeper. Look for changes in typical tales and participation when you ask specific questions about:
- Events at recess, sports activities and other outdoor events
- Participation in their most and least favorite classes
- Transportation to and from school, walking, carpooling, on the bus, etc.
- After school events or simply what happens after the final bell rings
- What’s happening with their friends and inside their social circle
When it comes to bullying, take an objective look at your child and look for things that are out-of-the norm, even simple items like the fact that they wear glasses, are unusually small or large for their size and see if they could be hiding things from the description of their day that could relate to these subtle differences.
While obvious signs of physical abuse can be seen in the form of black eyes or bruises, emotional scars run deep and often can’t be seen on the surface. Signs of torment and bullying can include:
- Sudden weight loss or gain that is out of the norm
- Changes in daily patterns or behaviors
- Withdrawal or unexpected emotional outbursts
- Listlessness or insomnia
In some cases, a good offense can be better than an effective defense, and this is certainly true in this case. Rather than waiting for our children to be a victim of abuse, it’s better to educate them and raise their awareness to prepare them for this very realistic potential experience.
This week, we were contacted regarding an important study that needs participants for their survey. Please share this information with any parents you know of middle school students who may be interested.
IF YOU ARE A MOTHER OF A PRIMARY OR MIDDLE SCHOOL CHILD YOU ARE INVITED TO WATCH AND RATE A CARTOON ON POSITIVE RESPONSES TO BULLYING
THIS STUDY’S IRB PROTOCOL NUMBER IS 14-09
The Research Group on Disparities in Health within the Department of Health and Behavior Studies at Teachers College, Columbia University, in New York, New York is studying how MOTHERS AND THEIR CHILDREN rate a CARTOON on positive ways to respond to bullying in the middle school setting, while also obtaining important background information through a survey.
- We ask you to spend about 30 minutes participating in this study
- First, we ask you to spend about 10 minutes answering an online survey
- Then, spend 10 minutes watching a cartoon online with your child
- Next, you spend about 3 minutes entering online how your child rates the cartoon, and other responses to it
- Finally, we ask you to spend about 7 minutes rating the video and answering final questions
- Participation in this study is limited to the first 150 mothers
- After 150 mothers complete the survey, the computer program will automatically close the survey and send out bar–coded gift certificates for use at www.Amazon.com to three randomly chosen e-mail accounts ($300, $200 or $100) without in any way linking your identity to the survey results
- Please go to the link below (www.surveymonkey.com/r/
BullyingCartoon) to view the informed consent, learn about your rights as a participant, your child’s rights, and proceed to the survey.
Meet Devon “The Connector” Bandison who was born and raised in NYC and shares the same energetic heartbeat, big personality and commitment to excellence as his hometown. Devon is a high performance coach and speaker who’s committed to individuals and organizations that want to maximize their potential in areas of leadership, productivity, fatherhood, and work-life satisfaction.
Sprigeo CEO, Joe Bruzzese met with Devon earlier this month. Devon inspires people, particularly fathers, in the NYC community to be at their best and for this we are proud to include him in the Heroes Project. You can find out more about Devon here: www.devonbandison.com
This video has popped up in our Facebook feed a few times since it was created for Bullying Prevention Month in October. It presents a powerful message on cyberbullying in a unique way. The video was a collaboration between a poet – Azure Antoinette and MusEffect dancers. Powerful.
This coming summer Sprigeo Founder, Joe Bruzzese and nationally recognized school counselor, Gary McDaniel, are hoping to present at the National Charter Schools Conference.The conference has created a new system for selecting presenters. When you have two minutes please go to the following link:#NCSC15 Session Selector (https://conference.
publiccharters.org/FORMS/ REVIEW/cfp_login.php?formid= 16151993 ). After navigating the first few questions you can search for the Sprigeo session by typing in the following phrase in the search box: