Ideas that Could STOP Bullying

I’m glad that bullying is getting a lot of attention in the news lately. I’m hoping that all this publicity will do some good for once, and maybe it will trigger some useful solutions to the problem. I’ve got a few ideas on the subject.

My friend Jyl over at MomItForward started a discussion on Facebook yesterday and it got me thinking.  Our two older boys had very little experience with bullying, but sadly our youngest boy has had the lion’s share of it.

 

 Bullying is a big problem in our schools. Here are some ideas that could help.

I’m not just talking a little bit of teasing or kids just harassing him, I’m talking major physical and emotional bullying and intimidation.  All this before he was even ten years old!  Just thinking about it makes me physically ill.

And we live in a “nice” neighborhood on the “good” side of town.  These aren’t poor kids of low-income working parents.  These kids are from well-educated, church-going parents, who presumably are brought up well.  As a parent, I involved myself in the process every step of the way.  I documented everything, I had meetings with the teachers, the Principal, and even the School Superintendent.  Everyone involved including the Principal and the School Board, tried to put a stop to it.  But nothing they did was particularly effective.

They did expel one of his most persistent attackers, but since there were multiple boys and they were smart enough to act when supervision was minimal, the torment continued through most of the 4th and 5th grade.  Mysteriously, in the 6th grade, most of it stopped, and so far, in Jr. High and High School, he’s been just fine.  Who knows?

SOLUTIONS

Anyway, I promised you some solutions.  As a first-hand participant in all this, I think I’ve got a pretty good perspective on this.  Let’s start with the victims.  Part of the fear and frustration of being a bullying victim is that they don’t know who or how to report the problem to, and often they aren’t believed or aren’t taken seriously.


“Part of the fear and frustration of being a bullying victim is that they don’t know who or how to report the problem to, and often they aren’t believed or aren’t taken seriously”

 
What if there was a way kids could report bullying consistently and anonymously, every time?  And really be listened to?  And given a bit of coaching by the teacher on how to handle it.  The teacher could pass them to the bullying task force.

Who would make up this task force?  The kids.  Kids are quite capable of disciplining each other quite fairly, when given the training and opportunity to do so.  If there were a council of 5 or so older students who could meet for an hour or two a week to hear the facts, determine the guilt or innocence, and hand out the appropriate punishments, I think kids would take them a lot more seriously.  It makes more of an impression if your peers disapprove of your behavior than adults.

Also if these same kids were given the same authority as the playground aides to deal with any horseplay or bullying.  That would multiply the amount of supervision on playgrounds and buses, in restrooms, and in lunch areas – prime real estate for bullying.   They wouldn’t be given authority to punish on the spot or to physically intervene.  But if they had the authority to tell the bully to stop, and to report the bully to a teacher or a Principal, that would help a lot.

Another problem is that the current punishments are ineffective.  Really ineffective.  As my son’s case shows, nothing the staff did put any particular damper on the abuse.  The typical chain of punishment goes:

CURRENT MODEL

  • Warning
  • Reprimand from teacher – possible note home
  • Sent to “think time” or a time out
  • Detention or other after-school or recess punishment
  • Sent to Principal, Vice Principal, or Nova Officer for a talk
  • Parents called
  • In school suspension (required to sit in a lower grade classroom for part or all of the day)
  • Out of school suspension – just 1 day usually, unless a weapon is involved
  • Expelled – requires a school board hearing and a majority decision by the board. Then they simply start over at a new school with a whole new batch of potential victims.

These can vary depending on the school official involved, the age of the child, or the severity of the behavior.  But what I don’t see is anything about actually teaching the bully anything about how to change his/her behavior.  How about something more like this:

NEW MODEL

  • Warning
  • Reprimand from teacher or student council
  • 1 to 4 page written report about the effects of bullying plus a public apology to the victim
  • Watch an anger management or anti-bullying film and a written plan for behavior change
  • Mandatory half-day anti-bullying class (preferably on a Saturday)
  • Mandatory referral to a therapist for at least 1 month of treatment plus virtual restraining order from any known victims.  No contact with the victim(s) until released by therapist.
  • Expelled – either to homeschooling, or to a juvenile facility.  Not allowed back in any school for six months and only with the approval of a therapist.

These are actually fairly simple ideas that will cost very little and they could make a big difference in this problem. Particularly if we implemented them nationwide. Then both the victims and the bullies would know exactly what to expect.

What are your ideas on new and innovative ways to prevent bullying?  Leave a comment or even better, come and join my new Moms Against Bullying Pinterest Group Board and share your ideas and blog posts.


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Comments

  1. I much prefer your ways! My kids attend a school known as the ‘Bully’ school. Thankfully, my kids have not been the victim of it, yet, but the school has some serious issues. The first problem? If any kids tells on a bully for bullying, both parties get suspended. Yep! The bully AND the one reporting it BOTH get suspended. So backwards.

    Thank you for sharing your article at Inspire Me Mondays!

    • Awww, that is SO wrong. Why would they even have a rule like that. I would start advocating right now to have them reconsider that rule. You know what makes me nuts – there are schools that have solved these problems. I don’t understand why EVERY school isn’t automatically required to implement these methods once they’ve been proven to work. Check out my Pinterest board for some more great ideas. I’ve been having a great time at the Inspire Me Mondays party – it’s my favorite linky these days!

  2. Both of my girls have experienced bullying, at varying times and varying degrees. I felt powerless as a mother, and I agree that the current system is ineffective. I think “time outs” and such really have no impact at all. I’m generally not a “zero tolerance” person, because kids make mistakes, but I think a punishment which is more intrusive into the routine of the bully sounds like it has more potential for long-lasting success.

    • Seana – I’m so sorry to hear that. Honestly, I think girl bullying is WORSE than boy bullying. With boys, it’s pretty direct, but with girls, it can be sneaky and catty. I’m going to add you to my Moms Against Bullying Pinterest board. Even if you don’t have anything to share, there are a lot of great resources on there. Thanks for sharing.

  3. I think I have shared with you the awful freshman year, and then rebuilding our oldest suffered. As I sat there and listened to the administrators go on about we need to get help for our daughter, I wondered what was going to happened to the the kids that were responsible for her not wanting to go to school, and end her life.

    Nothing other than being expelled.

    They were NOT required to seek counseling before returning to school. They didn’t have to leave the school, and then explain to everyone where they went. They got a clean slate. So what do I say to that….

    When a child feels it is necessary to tear another child down either physically or mentally that child should be required to seek mental health therapy. They need to understand that their actions are not appropriate, and discover why they feel the need to do that. What is so wrong or missing in their lives that they need to make other suffer. Until they are cleared to be a part of the society of a school again, they should attend an alternative education facility.

    Maybe if these were the punishments/treatments given ~ parents and children would be better citizens of the small school community.

    It has always amazed me that the victim is required to seek treatment but the bully is punished yet the real issue of why they feel the need to act this way is not discovered…. School bully if not treated turn into office/grown up bullies!!!!

    I like your idea, but I am gun shy of getting behind kids tattling on each other. My daughter became the victim of bullying because she stood up to the bullies. She became their new target, and the administrators didn’t know what to do about it, or looked the other way until it became to dangerous for her to attend school and my husband had to go in and threaten litigation with them.

    Administrators ~ teachers ~ councilors ~ and all other staff need to be trained.

    Bullies need to be held responsible.

    Thank you for this outlet..

    xoxoxo

    • As a parent, that is so heart-breaking for your child to be treated so shamefully and feel so powerless about it. I was on the verge of filing a police report against the next kid who bullied him, and I did take it all the way to the School Superintendent. We shouldn’t have to do that just to ensure that our kids have a safe environment to learn in. Here’s what blows me away – there ARE schools that have solved the bullying problems. For the life of me, I don’t understand why every other school in the country isn’t studying their techniques like crazy and doing the exact same thing! When they find something that works, it should be immediately duplicated in every school in the country, but people are just too dumb and disorganized to do that. They always have to keep plodding along doing the same ineffective techniques they’ve always used. Makes me want to cry! Hope things have gotten MUCH better for your sweet daughter! Thanks for being such a good friend. I’m going to send you an invite to my Pinterest bully board – I’ve got some great info on there.

  4. Dropping by from SITS. It is a good thing that more and more avenues are being placed where bullying is being discussed in the open. It happens everywhere, even here in the Philippines. I think having the school authorities, the parents, and, yes, the kids themselves, be part of the solution helps in lowering the incidence of bullying. I like that part on the 1 to 4-page written report. Maybe also come up with role-playing workshops where the bully sees the bad effects of what he or she is doing? I’m no expert and I don’t know if it will help but it’s just a thought.

    • I think role playing is a great idea. It’s sad to hear that it is just as bad in other countries. One of the effective techniques I’ve heard in Africa is that they take the person and put them in a circle and then all their friends and family come and tell good stories about the good things this person has done in their life and how disappointed they are in the poor behavior. It serves to convince them that they are good person and shouldn’t stoop to treating others badly. Peer pressure is a very powerful thing.

  5. Kids can be horrible to other kids. It’s been a long time, but I remember those middle school days when I had a few kids who were horrible to me.

    I think a really important part of this is for parents of kids being bullied to be sure to listen to their kids, take it seriously, and do whatever it takes to deal with the situation. I think it’s easy, as a parent, to blow it off because “that’s just the way kids are”. That is the way kids are but now there are more avenues to bully then there used to be. I do believe it’s worse then it was when I was a kid.

  6. I think the idea of a bully task force is amazing. I recently found out that my sweet older sister was a bully. She terrified a girl in my grade for years. I had no idea. My sister was also a victim of sexual child abuse, from both my older brother and my stepfather, and the bullying was acting out.

    I think that THIS aspect of bullying needs to be addressed. Kids are not cruel, that is not a natural occurrence as some try to say, “kids will be kids.” Hateful and violent behavior is modeled or is a result of acting out. I bet if there were a bullying task force, and repeat offenders were looked at with the understanding that something is going on in their home life to create this we would have significant change in bullying.

    Teach the “victims” their strengths and how to manage their emotional energy systems so that they don’t get psychologically hurt from the bullying, but we have to understand the bullying problem stems from something going on in the bully’s life. We have to seriously and aggressively explore that to bring an end to the epidemic of bullying!

  7. I think your anti bullying ideas are incredible! Especially the idea of getting peers involved. I completely agree that kids would be more respectful of their peers discipline, who they look up to, than that of their teachers. And your punishments for bullies seem to be far more effective than the school system. Have you taken these ideas to a school board or tried to have them implemented in any way? I absolutely think you should! Visiting from SITS, congrats on your feature day!

  8. First let me start by saying I’m so glad things are going well with your son.
    My child had a bully last year. He was in Kindergarten. At first, I didn’t think much of it (basically because of their ages).
    I was wrong. By the middle of the year I brought it up with the teacher. Apparently, the school was in touch with the bully’s parents. However, they had never called me.
    What would have happened had my son not told me? I think teachers need to be held accountable. We expect more from our children.
    There will be less bullying when adults stop acting like children.

  9. What a hard hard story. And the part where it magically is over?? what?? I know my kiddo hit Jr. High and she had at least one major ‘behavior’ change time frame, so I get it when I hear about kids turning a new leaf and all that but still?? what?!

    Wow your ideas are really fabulous. And some are really intense! I can imagine a parent going.. oh ‘he**’ no my kid ain’t going to NO anger management class!!

    I often wonder about how much the kids are getting their behavior from their parents in the first place!!

    Do you have any indication that your kid could have changed anything to solve any of those issues…? Does that make sense? The poor kid I can only imagine!

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  1. […] My youngest son had some major bullying issues, so here are some of the ideas I came up with that might help with this horrible problem.  Ideas that might help stop bullying. […]

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