If you worry that your child will be bullied in school next school year, but you don’t know what to do until bullying happens again in September, you’re missing a golden opportunity this summer. Summer is the best time to organize in order to protect your children on day-one. Seven tips for what you can do this summer:
- Don’t wait until there’s an incident or a history of incidents.
- Organize parents to pressure legislators, district administrators and principals. This step is a crucial one. A small group of parents supporting an anti-bullying program and pressuring district officials and principals can make a huge difference. You don’t need all parents; you only need a small, core group to start with.
- Make sure your district administrators and school principals have clear and strongly worded policies and programs to stop school bullies. Make sure they have emergencies procedures to institute swift and effective investigation and action. Does the program start on day one? What initial assemblies will be held with students? How will they be involved in on-going programs? What training will teachers and all staff get to help them recognize and stop sneaky bullies? How will hot-spots be monitored – buses, bathrooms, lockers, hallways, cafeterias, playgrounds? What support will teachers and staff get to protect them from angry, bullying parents? How will they deal with the first boundary pushers so that the message of zero-tolerance gets out?
- Get police involved. Do they have a special unit to stop bullying, especially cyberbullying? Do they speak at school assemblies? Are they fearless in dealing with bullying parents of school bullies?
- Stimulate media to publicize stories about the effects of bullying. Find reporters and producers who were bullied or have kids in school now; especially kids who have been targeted. Help them find experts to interview.
- Learn what constitutes evidence and how to document it. Learn how to support proactive principals. Learn what you will need to do to motivate lazy, uncaring, colluding or cowardly principals. Do you know what media and legal pressure will stimulate your principal to act? Talk to a lawyer now so you’re prepared.
- Publicize the policy and program before school starts. Organize parent-principal-teacher assemblies to gain buy-in to the school’s program and processes. Encourage parents to educate their children about not bullying and about what to do when they witness bullying.
Don’t waste your time with nit-picky detractors and critics who have nothing better to offer.
Look at the price to all kids at a school where bullying is tolerated or condoned, or the friends of bullies are allowed to pile on to victims by threatening and abusing them or by cyberbullying. We all know the consequences of not stopping bullies and of allowing them continued contact with their targets, the bullying and violence will increase.
At schools that have a do-nothing principal or in which principals blame the victim and avoid the bully, kids’ inner strength, courage, determination, perseverance, resilience are threatened. You have to be the one to demand that principals keep your children safe while officials try to ignore you or thwart your attempts.
Principals who avoid the issue make the targeted children feel helpless and that their situation is hopeless. It starts them down the path to being victims for life. It destroys self-confidence and self-esteem. It stimulates anxiety, stress, guilt, negativity and self-mutilation. It starts children toward isolation, depression and suicide.
Organize this summer so your children will be protected from school bullies on day-one.
Remember, all tactics depend on the situation – the people and the circumstances. So we must plan tactics appropriate to us and to the situation.
Rather than buy a packaged anti-bullying program that ends up buried in a storeroom, stimulate school and district officials to create their own, based on what will be effective for your specific school situation. Expert consulting and coaching are necessary to implement an effective program.