BULLYING AND SUICIDE. WHO’S FAULT IS IT AND HOW CAN YOU HELP?

According to a recent USA TODAY survey, one third of Americans are bullies or bullied at some point in school.  In addition bullying these days is most often done in groups and  through the Internet, which makes looking away much harder.

Why would a child bully?  Why would a child get bullied?  Behaviors are learned, which means parents and teachers have to teach intolerance.  We have to have ZERO TOLERANCE for mean behavior toward other children, or anyone for that matter, from a very early age.  I remember when I brought home my baby girl and my 2 year old daughter said, “I don’t like the baby”.   I answered, “yes you do, you love her”, and I made room on the other knee for the two of them to fit.    It’s easy for a child to bully out of jealousy.  As parents and teachers, we have to look out for those cues.  Stop the bullying and understand the reasoning to prevent it again in the future.  ZERO TOLERANCE.  It starts at home and shows up at school starting in the early grades.    Kids will fight, but they have to fight fairly and appropriately.   No demeaning behaviors.   Too many children are committing SUICIDE as a result of this bullying!  Children are now getting taunted on the “virtual playground” to such a harsh extreme that they are choosing to end their life.  We have to step in!

What about teaching protection of those being bullied? Yes, we have to teach that too!   That can start at home.  Teach your child to stand up for the one being bullied.  Explain to your kids that if they see bullying in school, on the playground or even on Facebook, to tell an adult.   As professionals (parents, teachers, principals), we also have to diagnose the bullies or bullied kids, and make sure they are getting the appropriate intervention they need that is causing them to aggressively taunt someone or to get teased themselves.  Maybe that “nerd” has Asperger’s syndrome or depression?  Maybe that “bully” has Oppositional Defiant Disorder or is being abused at home?    Taking care of our youth is not an easy task but someone has to do it!

If your child is being bullied or is possibly a bully him/herself, it may not be your fault, but it is your duty to step in and intervene!

What types of Behavior do you consider Bullying ones?

What actions are you going to take to help our youth?  We look forward to hearing your solutions!

12 replies
  1. Greg Stasi
    Greg Stasi says:

    Good points Deborah. One thing that parents of children with special needs must be made well aware of is that bullying is illegal under section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and classified as “disability harassment.” It is then the school’s responsibility to update the child’s Individual Education Plan (IEP) or 504 Plan to ensure that there are safeguards to protect the child. The academic team should convene a meeting to identify specific accommodations and interventions to make sure that the child is not bullied. The staff should create a detailed plan to monitor and control the bullying as well as provide support for the child that was being bullied (e.g. scheduled visits to see the school social worker or psychologist).

    Reply
  2. Sarah
    Sarah says:

    Even if the number had only been one (and it is far larger) the number of children who have been hurt or who have died as a result of bullying is too great. Parents and teachers must treat this issue with a great amount of seriousness and importance. Yes- parents and teachers (and others who work with children) must be aware of the bullies and the victims and take action to remedy the problems. I am very much in favor of a strong curriculum in all areas– but how will society move forward if a bunch of its citizens have academic skills but no interpersonal (or intrapersonal) strengths? Drop the books and paperwork and look your students in the eyes, and teach them to look each other in the eyes and to be good to one another- very good. Once this is taught early on (at school and of course at home as well) then it will stick for the years ahead. Now that I am more familiar with this subject I will make it even more of a priority at home and in the educational settings where I work, and I hope many more people will do the same!

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  3. Deborah
    Deborah says:

    Greg, your information is so helpful and I hope we can get as many readers as possible to understand the law! Sarah, I am so happy someone working in the schools is reading and following and trying to find more info on how to make things better for our children of all ages. Thank you and keep commenting, the world needs it!

    Reply
  4. Lauren Perlman
    Lauren Perlman says:

    Deborah, it does not surprise me that this topic was one of your first blogs. Your staff does such an amazing job at modeling respectful and kind behavior, and offering amazing strategies to kids who bully and who get bullied. There absolutely needs to be a zero tolerance bully policy in the schools. Today’s children are tomorrow’s adults. From spousal and child abuse to abuse in the workplace and even abuse of power between countries…. society needs to get a much better handle on this problem. I believe that it all starts with the right role models and strategies when you are young. This is what NSPT does so well!

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  5. Nancy Peske
    Nancy Peske says:

    Emotionally, I understand the desire for “zero tolerance” on bullying. But my head reminds me that the bullies are the bullied in the playground world. I have seen this first hand at my child’s school. Kids who desperately want friendships but whose underaddressed issues make them unable to regulate their behavior or, sometimes, read social cues respond to their feelings of powerlessness and shame by becoming bullies. To look only at the surface behavior and not see the underlying issues of shame, embarrassment, and low self-worth does not serve anyone. Show me a playground bully and I’ll likely be able to show you a child whose older sibling beats him up after school and whose parent calls him names. Zero tolerance is not the answer. Guidance counseling, character education, an educated school community, compassion, and accountability for all is.

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    • Robyn Ackerman
      Robyn Ackerman says:

      Yes, most children who do bully are bullied themselves. But perhaps if we teach them Zero Tolerance from a young age, they will stop the trend. They won’t continue it and bully their own children one day.
      I recently read the story in People Magazine http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20360860,00.html about Phoebe Prince committing suicide and how she was literally harassed daily by her peers at school. Students gave testimony that teachers witnessed Phoebe getting bullied and did nothing. Zero Tolerance doesn’t have to mean: you bullied someone- now you are expelled. Zero Tolerance can mean whatever policies the school, parent, counselor deems it to mean. But they have to make those policies clear and follow through with the plan entirely. Just as you said Nancy, there needs to be a good action plan that takes place for both the bully and the bullied immediately following the incident.
      Should the children in the Phoebe Prince case be prosecuted? What do you think?

      Reply
  6. Deborah
    Deborah says:

    Thank you for your comment. Bullies are the buliled sometimes. Yes, there are a few reasons why a child may be bullying. However, we still need zero tolerance for it. That does not mean to ignore it though. It means to become a detective and figure out why that child is the bully now. We can be proactive though and at home model and reward positive behavior and teachers and parents need to identify and support kids that do become bullies because of social challenges or with challenged parenting at home and have them in social skills groups, psychotherapy, cognitive behavior therapy, any therapy needed, as well as provide proper support, protection, modeling on the playground.

    Reply

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