Ask Kids Their Views on Bullying
What do kids say about being bullied? What do kids think will prevent bullying? How many parents, teachers, principals, school counselors, and adults ask youth about their opinions on the bully problem and the bully solution?
Stan Davis and colleagues asked more than 13,000 5th-12th grade students about how to stop bullying in the 2010 Youth Voice Project. The outcomes are in Davis’ book, Schools Where Everyone Belongs: Practical Strategies for Reducing Bullying.
What Kids Said Didn’t Work
Just walking away and ignoring the bully; telling the bully to stop by confronting; or pretending that bullying doesn’t bother you is not effectual according to the surveyed youth. In regard to peer bystanders, the bullied youth reported that it did not help when peers confronted the bully in either calm or angry ways.
What Kids Said Did Work
What the bullied youth wanted the most was for adults and peers to tell them that the bullying was not their fault. Kids wanted adults to believe them and help them. They wanted teachers to check in with them after the bullying incidents and they wanted encouragement from peers. Bullied students wanted other kids to sit with them, talk with them, and include them.
“Bullies experience a wish for power that is stronger than their empathic sense, so they are willing to hurt others to feel powerful,” writes Davis. He recommends that schools elicit student input and use the “Four Rs” for all students in order to prevent bullying: respect, relationships, resiliency, and responsiveness. Davis is the creator of the website www.stopbullyingnow.com.
Go to www.blogs.greatschools.org and type in ‘What kids say about bullying’ and watch a video by the Fine Brothers. Kids, ages 9 to 14 years, are interviewed about bullying. These youth state that school staff is not dealing effectively with bullying.
“I saw on a Disney channel show it said it’s NOT tattling if you are telling someone about a bully,” writes a child on the website www.pacerkidsagainstbullying.org.
The following is a target checklist for children:
Are you called mean names by other kids?
Do other kids ever hit, kick, push, or punch you?
Do kids leave you out of groups on purpose?
Do other kids make fun of the way that you look or act?
Is it hard for you to make friends?
Are you sometimes afraid to go to school?
Do you often feel nervous, anxious, or worried?
Have other kids ever laughed when someone hurt you?
Has anyone ignored you on purpose?
Have you ever felt bad about the way someone has treated you?
“Children should not fight with a bullying child or make verbal or written insults. This could lead to more aggression and possibly serious injury,” experts write at www.webmd.com. They recommend that children tell and talk to adults.
Sherri Gordon, bulling expert at ABOUT.COM lists six things to say to your kids when they are bullied. “It took courage to tell me. This is not your fault. How do you want to handle it? I will help you. Let’s brainstorm how to keep this from happening again. Who’s got your back?”
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) developed KnowBullying, a free smart phone app that provides adults with information and communication support to talk about bullying and build resilience in children.
Parents and adults in the community may learn something when they begin to initiate conversations with kids of all ages about their perceptions of bullying problems and bullying solutions. However, it is the responsibility of adults to keep children safe from being bullied at home, at school, on playgrounds, and in the community.
Dr. Missy, Ph.D., is a feelings helper, child therapist, play therapist, and child trauma therapist. She provides therapeutic services at Affirmations, Columbus, Ohio.