Bullies and
Youth Violence
 

May
What can Schools do to Help Stop Bullies & Violence?


It's all about talking it out: Child to Child (Peer Mediation), Teacher to Parent (PTO's, PTA's), Teacher to Teacher (in service days), Parent to Child (at home). There should be town meetings involving the parents, students, and entire school faculty to discuss Conflict Resolution. The teachers should also allow the students to give "their" ideas on how they would like situations handled. For younger students, role playing of "victims" and "bullies" in the classroom will help them understand the cause and effect - how it feels. Another idea for younger kids getting picked on could be to have an older student assigned as a type of mentor that he could talk to, and who would step in to settle a conflict or dispute. Groups have also been created where victims and their parents can meet with other victims and discuss solutions. It's comforting to know you're not alone, and friendships can be made there.

Many schools admit that the lockers are the most common place that bullying takes place. Teachers could take turns standing by these lockers during class changes.

The schools can also pass out questionnaires, and do surveys or polls to find out what students and parents think about what is happening and what they would like to see done. Some teachers have told me that their schools put up a peace flag outside on days when there is no conflict in the school. This promotes a pride in the school, and teaches them that even one person's actions can have consequences that affect everyone. Other schools are using posters, and having the students wear certain colors on certain days.

Teachers are also using, "Taking the Bully by the Horns" for role playing in the classrooms. Since I believe in my book, and the help it's been giving children, I suggest reading it aloud to the group. The book is written in first person, so you will be addressing them, and speaking directly to them. This way, you can teach them the skills they need to handle bullies and feel good about themselves (self-esteem/life skills). I ask questions in the book, and you can pause to get their opinions. I also added a bit of humor so it will be enjoyable for them AND they will learn something. Then, you could try some role playing, where they take turns acting out situations where they play both bullies and victims. This will show them how it "feels" and give them ideas on what to do to help themselves and others.

Our local schools participated in Berks County's Annual Week Without Violence. One program included, "Hands Around Violence." Students made paper cutouts of their hand prints and wrote nonviolent messages on them. For example, "I will not use my hands or words for hurting." The "Pledge Hands" will serve as a visual reminder that together they can make a difference.

Other activities included a white out, where students wore as much white as possible to symbolize peace, a unity day, where students wore their school colors, and a smile day, where each student received a smile card and handed that card over to the first person to smile at them.

Another great idea schools are using is to have teachers hold up pictures of kids faces while asking the students, "How does this person feel?" This promotes a discussion aimed at helping kids to identify and describe emotions. And for teens, pictures of conflicts or stressful situations can be used to promote discussion & ideas for resolution.

Let kids know it's OK to talk about problems; that parents and teachers are willing to listen, and eager to help. Also, if your kids/students are "bystanders" to their friends, or other kids being bullied, tell them how important it is for them to help these kids by reporting it. If they are afraid, they can use an anonymous tip, or tell the teachers not to use their name when confronting the bully.

The anonymous tip was only suggested for those victims who feared revenge from the bully in the form of physical abuse for their "snitching." Yes, in many cases the name of the victim would have to be given in order for the conflict to be directly approached. A bully being accused of attacking a "nameless" child might try to talk his way out of it. But if a name is used in relating to a particular incident with a specific child, and if there was proof, or witnesses, it's harder to deny.

©2012 Kathy Noll

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In violence, we forget who we are. - Mary McCarthy

Kathy Noll is the co-author of Taking the Bully by the Horns. She has had her short stories/articles published in magazines along with interviews, helped NBC news monitor a classroom in Philadelphia for bullying behavior, and also helped many people with their own bully problems through her book, educational and family related Internet chats, message board hosting, and e-mail. She has also spoken on radio and television shows discussing the topics of school violence and self-esteem. Most recently she appeared with co-author Dr. Carter on the Montel Williams show where they talked to kids about bullies, and promoted their book, "Taking the Bully by the Horns." She also works as a consultant for various TV News & Talk Shows. Her second book, Encounters with Every-Day Angels, is a workbook on bullying and character development that can be used in the classroom. www.kathynoll.com or Email.



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