"We say a student is BEING BULLIED when another student, or group of students, say or do nasty and unpleasant things to him or her. It is also bullying when a student is teased repeatedly in a way he or she doesn’t like."
Bullying is a relatively common experience in public and private schools according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
My Experience With a Bully
Disclaimer: I know that I am biased when I write about bullying. Why? I personally remember being terrified of bullies when I was a 10-12 year old. My bully turned out to be somewhat infamous. David Walsh lived across the street from me. He'd taunt me and tease me. I was a sensitive, rather puny kid who spent all his time playing the piano and reading. I hated sports and was shy with folks I didn't know. David knew I was vulnerable and took great delight in threatening me. I don't recall his actually hitting me, but I felt very uncomfortable when I saw him outside his house, as I knew that I'd be subjected to some kind of verbal abuse. The fact that I remember the experience to this very day proves how humiliating and demeaning bullying can be. While I would never wish anyone ill, I was not surprised to see how David turned out. He died in the Bahamas in June 1998 from a ruptured aneurysm, having fled his native Canada in the wake of the Bre-X mining scandal, allegedly with hundreds of millions of investors' dollars. At age 53 he was gone. Where was I? About a mile away from David Walsh teaching Latin at a private school in the Bahamas.
3 Things Parents and Teachers Can Do to Prevent Bullying
1. Promote Smaller Schools.
Any form of intimidation flourishes in a setting where adult supervision is non-existent or severely limited. Reportedly students feel safer in smaller schools. That's why private schools frequently provide a better setting in which to control bullying. School faculty and staff can supervise students more effectively in a more intimate academic setting. In a small school children are not merely faces and numbers, but real people with real needs which can be addressed by a professional staff.
2. Control What Our Children Watch and How They Play.
It is really up to us as parents to control what our children watch on TV. The same thing applies to video games. We also have to watch how they use their cellphones. Above all, we personally must set good examples. If our children see us intimidating and harassing others, they will imitate what we do, not what we say.
3. Educate Faculty and Staff.
Like its cousin hazing, bullying demeans and humiliates young people. It scars them emotionally for life. While I certainly don't consider myself scarred by David Walsh's bullying, it made enough of an impression on me that I remember how it felt to this very day. A trained, sensitive professional staff can and should nip the bullying bug the minute it appears in the school setting. Ask about your school's protocols to deal with bullying. Ask if the faulty and staff are informed about and trained on the issue. Find out if the protocols are enforced.
Constant vigilance and setting good examples are the best weapons which we adults can bring to bear against bullying. A zero tolerance policy in your school's code of conduct is an important first step towards eradicating bullying.