It’s inspiring to see how local youth, like the Opstad students described on page 2, are taking a stand against bullying, and more importantly, showing others how to react and stop it.
Parents, other children and local educators should take note of what these kids are doing. At the same time, we should all educate ourselves about how to stop bullying before it gets serious.
According to StopBullying.gov, a special website hosted by the U.S. Department of Education, it’s important to never tell a child to ignore the bullying. Do not blame the child for being bullied. Even if he or she may have provoked it, no one deserves to be bullied.
Other tips for stopping bullies include:
• Listen and focus on the child. Learn what’s been going on and show you want to help.
• Know that kids who are bullied may struggle with talking about it. Consider referring them to a school counselor, psychologist, or other mental health service.
• Give advice about what to do. This may involve role-playing and thinking through how the child might react if the bullying occurs again.
• Ask the child being bullied what can be done to make him or her feel safe. Changes to a child’s routine should be minimal.
For example, consider rearranging classroom or bus seating plans for everyone. If bigger moves are necessary, such as switching classrooms or bus routes, the child who is bullied should not be forced to change.
• Develop a game plan, and maintain open communication between schools, organizations, and parents. Discuss the steps that are taken and the limitations around what can be done based on policies and laws. Remember, the law does not allow school personnel to discuss discipline, consequences, or services given to other children.
• Do not tell the child to physically fight back against the kid who is bullying. It could get the child hurt, suspended or expelled.
• Parents should resist the urge to contact the other parents involved. It may make matters worse. School or other officials can act as mediators between parents.
• Be persistent. Bullying may not end overnight. Commit to making it stop and consistently support the bullied child.
Most kids have probably experienced the misery and frustration of bullying on the playground, field or sidewalk, or inside or outside of school. But if we all do our part to be sensitive, open to working together and treating others the same way we’d like to be treated, we can put an end to this particular kind of growing pain.
• Snoqualmie Valley School District has its definitions, policies and other useful information on bullying available online at http://www.svsd410.org/ under “Parents and Community.”