Hello, Tribelet! Happy Wednesday afternoon! I want to thank ALYSSA, LARISSA and HADASSAH for participating in the Report Alert challenge. If you'd like to do that and haven't, just check out last week's After School Wednesdays post.
I think one of the reasons you hesitate to go to an adult when bullying is happening is that they're not always helpful. Here's the thing, though -- that isn't because they don't care that you're struggling (they do!) -- it's because they don't know what to do.
So maybe you can help them.
Below you'll see a list of things I tell teachers about anti-bullying. You might want to print it out and show it to a grown-up who you want to go to for help with a bullying situation or just talk to them about it. Here we go -- as I tell it to the ADULTS:
- Bullying isn’t a normal part of growing up. It’s not okay just because it’s been around for centuries. So was slavery.
- Bullying affects every student, even the ones on the sidelines. Perhaps especially them.
- Being bullied has a profound impact on a student. 160,000 kids miss school every day for fear of being tormented.
- We’re not talking about the friendship flubs that all kids make. Bullying is the deliberate and continued effort to put another person down, using emotional, verbal, physical, and/or mental abuse, in person and/or through cyber means.
- Kids can be taught to stand up for victims, to free themselves from the power of the bully, and stop bullying themselves. But they can’t do it without the support of the adults in their lives. That calls for continued attention to this issue, not just a one-time visit from an inspirational speaker.
- The idea that is often bandied about on Facebook – that we’re raising a nation of victims and that kids who are bullied just need to “man up” – is entirely untrue. If anything we are raising a nation of people who think they can treat others any way they want. You as an educator can help put a stop to that.
- Validate the feelings of any student who comes to you regarding bullying. “I am so sorry this is happening. How can I help?” is a good response.
- Take the situation seriously. “This is definitely a problem. I get that.”
- First action is always to help the students address the problem themselves.
* Give the troubled bystander concrete ways to help the victim. “Go to her locker, the bathroom, etc. with her and take some other friends with you.” “Encourage him to save his reaction until he’s away from the kids who are being mean to him.” “Think about what you would want somebody to do for you and do that for the bullied kid.”
- Offer the victim solid ways to take back the power to be himself/herself. “Have a one-liner ready, like, Really? I thought you were better than that. Or Yeah I’m a geek and I’m proud of it.” “Put on your stone face when dealing with them.” “Find the place where you can fit in and be yourself, even if it’s outside of school. That will give you confidence, and kids don’t pick on confident people.”
- Take the kid doing the bullying aside, away from the situation and other kids. Say all of the following: “This behavior isn’t okay and it won’t be tolerated. There will be consequences and they include you being isolated in my class until we can get this fixed. What you’re doing is bad but you aren’t a bad person. Let’s find out why you’re doing this and fix it. I’m your ally.”
- If you feel like you have to intervene, do. That encourages students to come to you if what they’re seeing or experiencing has become dangerous and beyond their control.
- Don’t say invalidating things like: “You girls and your drama. Why can’t you just get along?” “Oh, just ignore them and they’ll stop bothering you.” “There have always been bullies. Just deal with it.” If you’re bullied in the workplace, do you want somebody to tell YOU that?
- Don’t ignore the situation yourself. If you see peer abuse taking place, get that bullying kid out of there and deal with him or her. Other kids need to know they can count on you. OR take the bystanders or the kid being bullied aside and ask if they want to help. As you know, middle schoolers don’t like to be considered snitches, but if you go to them first …
- Don’t insist that a bullying kid apologize to his or her victim. He or she won’t mean it and the bullied one will know it’s insincere. It doesn’t accomplish anything but make the “mean one” feel like once again, she’s won.
- Don’t suggest that they become friends. Really?
- Don’t allow subtle bullying in your classroom. No matter how much needs to get done in that class period, if a kid is openly being derisive to another kid, stop what you’re doing and simply say, “There will be none of that here. We’re about positive and constructive. We’re not about putting people down. Am I clear?” Even if you’ve let it go in the past, now is the time to start creating a safe atmosphere in your classroom. The students respect you more than they let on.
Most of all, be an example to every student in your school. On a bad day when it seems like they’re all being absurd little creeps, it’s easy to use authority to put them down. We all have our snarky moments. But they’re watching you, and they’re learning. You are, after all, the teacher.
SO TRIBELET -- if you want to comment this week, tell us if you showed this to a grown up and share their reaction. Just because you're a kid doesn't mean you can't help a grown-up learn.
"Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in ove, in faith and in purity." ITimothy 4:12