Helping Kids Deal with Bullies
Kids are often reluctant to tell adults about bullying because they are embarrassed and ashamed that this is happening to them, or they worried that their parents will be disappointed in or think less of them.
Bullying can be a real nightmare for kids. Bullying can show up in many forms:
• Teasing that turns hurtful, unkind and constant
• Name calling, spreading rumors or intentionally hurting someone’s feelings
• Shoving, pushing or actual assaults
• Stealing, causing property damage
• Posting mean or degrading messages or lies on social networking sites, chat rooms or via text
Kids who are bullied often do not want to discuss the situation with parents or other adults. You may notice differences in your child that you should pay attention to. Here are a few:
• Anxiety - not sleeping or eating well
• Decline in grades
• Lunch money vanishing
• No longer wanting to do things that usually enjoy
• Coming home repeatedly with unexplained bruises or cuts
• Avoiding certain situations like taking the school bus or participating in after school activities
• Coming up with new excuses not to school
If you suspect that your child might be the victim of bullying look for opportunities to discuss the issue. Teach your child that it is important to talk about bullying. Hopefully they will come to you but if they don’t open to you, make sure they know that they should share what is happening with them with a trusted adult, teacher, school counselor, grandparents or relative.
When your child comes to you saying that they have been the victim of bullying, remain calm. Fight the urge to jump into action and contain your anger. Listen and be fully engaged with your child and their story. Don’t interrupt or offer your opinion. Once they have finished ask them open ended questions that may help fill in any missing details.
It is imperative that you get a hold of your emotions before jumping in to fix the situation. We must model appropriate behavior for our children.
Three things that you can do regarding bullying:
1. Take bullying seriously. This is not a phase that your child is going through. Offer support to your child whether they are 6 or 16. This may be the most difficult issue that they have ever dealt with.
2. Consider enrolling your child into a martial arts program or a self-defense class. No, I am not suggesting that they learn to beat up the bully, but martial arts can build confidence in a child. Bullies rarely pick on a confident child – they almost always choose someone who is vulnerable or lacks confidence.
3. Teach your child how to respond to a bully. Teach them what they CAN do in order to give them back some power. They need confidence, assurance and direction.
Document any action that you take. Keep notes on what your child tells you and enter every event with dates. This documentation will make it easier to calmly explain the situation to school authorities or to file a legal complaint with police should the situation continue to escalate. I know you want to fix this for your child and that you want to put an immediate stop to the bullying. Depending on the seriousness of the case you may have to stop it immediately, in other cases your best action is to coach your child on how to handle a bully themselves.
Three things to teach your child:
1. Teach your child to be confident, and to ignore the bully's hurtful remarks. Explain that it is the bully's intent to use power over your child and that this is not acceptable. Tell your child that it is okay to ignore the remarks and walk away with their head held high. In most cases, once the bully realizes that they have no power over your child they will get bored and move on.
2. Explain to your child that they have the right not to be bullied, harassed or abused. Bullying can undermine their confidence and sense of well being, and if they don’t learn how to deal with it, later years can be plagued by physical abuse, sexual abuse, domestic violence and even suicide. When bullied their self worth is challenged to the core and the earlier you can intervene and help them the better off they will be.
3. Give your children permission to protect themselves! It is dangerous to allow a child to think that someone else has power over them and that someone has the right to touch them, push them, harass them, bully them or violate them in any way. They need to know they have the right to stand up for themselves and live a full, happy life.
I realize that I have barely touched the surface of this issue. There are two things I want you to remember:
1. Bullying should be an on-going conversation
2. Give your child the confidence to stand up to a bully! Bullying is never okay!
Unfortunately, bullying does not end on the playground. To explore my programs that address workplace bullying, call me today at (623) 242-8797.
It was reported that on the morning of February 27, 2012, T.J. Lane Tweeted about bringing a gun to school…a Tweet that went unnoticed. Was it a cry for help? Could someone have intervened and possibly stopped this terrible tragedy from happening?
Children, especially teens, can be influenced by a number of stressors that could lead them to commit violent acts. Gang activity and the use of drugs are two common stressors that lead to violence. Others that we don’t often think about are:
• Physical, psychological or emotional abandonment by parents (or someone else that it close to them)
• Abuse, neglect or severe family dysfunction
• Witnessing domestic violence
In the case of T.J. Lane, he came from a home where his father was arrested several times for abusing a multitude of women, including T.J.'s mother.
In order to keep our schools and homes safe we should be aware of signs that children and teens need help. The National Crime Prevention Council suggests that we look for the following signs:
• Lack of interest in school
• Absence of age-appropriate anger control skills
• Persistent disregard for or refusal to follow the rules
• History of bullying
• Talking constantly about weapons
• Obsessions with violent games
• Talking about or actually bringing a weapon to school
• Misplaced or unwarranted jealousies
• Involvement with or interest in gangs
• Self-isolation from family or friends
The more of these signs you see in a child, the greater chance that the child needs help before they lash out in a violent manner.
The red flags that I would add to this warning list are:
• Violent fantasies
• Feeling of hopelessness and despair
• Victim of extreme or ongoing bullying
• Artwork that depicts isolation or anger
• Violent or “dark” writing
• Makes ongoing jokes about violence
• Cruelty to pets or other animals
• Extreme isolation - sense that they don’t fit in anywhere and are the only one who feels that way
• A sense of desperation
• Talking about death for themselves or others
• Expressing angst about something that hasn’t happened yet
It has been reported that T.J. Lane posted this on his FaceBook status in December of last year:
“Feel death, not just mocking you. Not just stalking you but inside of you. Die all of you.”
This type of dark media is haunting and we need to teach students, teachers and parents to pay attention to social media postings like this.
Students are the best eyes and ears to what is going on in their own world. We must teach the younger generation to patrol Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites and when they find dark postings, threats or anything that makes them feel uncomfortable, they should bring it to a trusted adult.
Youth often find it difficult to go to an adult when they are in trouble or being bullied. They fear that we won’t believe them, will laugh it off and not take it seriously; or even worse, that we will think that they are weak and can’t stand up for themselves. When kids bring us information about themselves or a friend, especially if it’s involving threats, we need to address their concerns immediately.
Parents can be proactive by Friending and Following their children and their children's friends on social media. Depending on the age of your child you may want to know their password so you can periodically monitor posts.
By paying attention to social media posts both in our school age kids, as well as in corporations around the world, we can intervene early and get people the help that they need before a situation becomes violent.
Email me today at email@example.com to explore training options for Personal Safety and Warning Signs of Violence seminars.
Val Cade (http://www.bullyfreeatwork.com) has the same mission as we do at Violence Free…to keep workplaces safe. Val recently sent out some valuable tips in her newsletter for handling a workplace bully situation that we wanted to share:
What to Do When the Bully Attacks You with Accusations That Are Not True
The scenario from one of our readers: How do I stop a bully boss from 'attacking' me with untrue accusations? He believes the customer over me. When I try and interrupt him, he puts me on hold.
1. Ask: "What Does My Boss Probably Want?"
• In this case, the boss probably wants to be seen as competent and capable; in fact, most of us do.
• Consider that it may be difficult for this boss to know exactly how to handle a customer's complaint. They may be wrestling with 'never make the customer wrong' and they may also be wrestling with 'any employee behavior is seen as a reflection on this boss personally'. This boss may have trouble separating the customer's needs with supporting and leading employees.
• This boss probably does not want to be interrupted, but heard as well, especially since they may have just had it out with a customer.
2. Ask: "What Do I Want"
• What do we want from our boss? Usually support, recognition and to be believed.
• We want our boss to listen to us until we feel heard.
• We want our boss to listen to the customer without compromising the morale of the staff.
3. What's Really Going On?
• The boss is responsible to run the company and maintain customers and happy staff.
• The boss would probably be more apt to listen to an employee especially when he/she feels supported and allowed to speak until he/she is finished (even if he/she is wrong and making false accusations).
• The boss may be trying to maintain his/her own need to be seen as effective over looking at the truth of the matter (your view vs the customer's view).
4. What You Can Do
• Allow your boss to finish his/her statements, especially if they have anger attached to them. Let the hot air out of the balloon first.
• Remind yourself that by pushing back at that particular time, you will not likely win.
• Choose to approach your boss after the dust settles and when your boss has time to hear you.
• Have a 'classy' crucial conversation that counts! (Taking the high road to where you want to lead the bully).
Valerie Cade, CSP is a Workplace Bullying Expert, Speaker and Author of "Bully Free at Work: What You Can Do To Stop Workplace Bullying Now!" which has been distributed in over 100 countries worldwide. Visit Val's website at http://www.bullyfreeatwork.com.
For more information about Violence Free Workshops, Keynotes and Virtual Training on Workplace Violence, Managing Angry People, and Personal Safety email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Approximately 84,000 sexual assaults and 51,000 rapes occur in the workplace every year and I believe, along with many other experts in the field, that those numbers are actually much higher. In the wake of the rape and sexual assault allegations at Penn State, we have all been inundated with conversation, amazement and disgust over the situation.
For many people, this situation evokes deep emotional pain that they have long since buried. I recently had lunch with a friend/nurse/life coach who has been working with a man in his late 50’s. By all appearances this man is a very successful, semi-retired businessman who is happily married. Since the Penn State scandal broke, he’s had intense feeling of being unsettled and can’t seem to control his anger. As he began to talk through his feelings, he shared that he also had been the victim of rape at a very young age. When his parents reported the rape to the school, they were all told that the perpetrator was a well respected teacher and coach and it would be one person’s word against another. Without a witness, they would not investigate or report it. It was simply easier to sweep this under the rug than show a child justice….sound familiar?
How many times a day does this need to occur in schools, organizations and businesses across the globe before people are willing to take a STAND against such atrocities? How and when did we as a society get so wrapped up in our “legends” and “authorities” that we would allow this behavior to occur? We should ALWAYS be taking the side of the child, the employee, or the victim as opposed to protecting the perpetrators who ruin lives.
Yes, we have a legal obligation to report such behavior and we also have a moral obligation. Many times these situations are swept under the rug under the guise of protecting the company image, the organization’s executive or the school’s legend. Has Penn State’s reputation been comprised? Big time!!! As this story continues to unfold, we will continue to see people who attempted to report their suspicions or what they actually saw and we will continue to learn about people who attempted to cover it up. As with any act of workplace violence, the story always goes much deeper than it initially seems – the layers of the onion will be peeled back for months, maybe even years, to come.
Are you prepared to take a STAND for the children in your lives, for your fellow employees and anyone else who reports this type of assault, bullying, sexual assault or rape?
What systems do you have in place at your company, organization or school to handle this type of workplace violence? Do your managers and supervisors know what to do when something like this comes to light? And is your company’s culture one that would have the moral standards to immediately deal with this type of situation?
There are three things your company can do right now to keep your people safe:
1. Every organization should be evaluating what risk factors affect their employees. Do they have women who work alone, late at night by themselves? Do they have well lit parking lots or security guards to escort employees to their vehicles after dark? Do you have jobs that put your employees at a higher risk? Do you employ vulnerable adults? And if the answer is yes, what things can you do to keep them safe?
2. What intervention strategies do you currently have in place? Is it time to develop or adopt new intervention strategies?
3. Do you have a reporting system in place? If you work in an organization with children, do you have an open-door policy with children and parents when they feel something is wrong, or do you discourage this type of interaction?
The negative impact of tragedies like the Penn State scandal are ever-lasting. As someone who has dedicated my life to the pursuit of safety and a violence free world, it is my sincere hope that all organizations will take a deeper look at their gaps in protecting their people – which runs the gambit of at-risk youth who are a part of charity, to women working in a male-dominated workplace, to high-level executives experiencing domestic violence. This is the sad trigger that should wake up all organizations and have them take a deeper look into past scenarios that might have been ignored or not properly addressed.
Since 1993 over 100,000 people have benefited from Carol’s powerful messages. She keeps audiences on the edge of their seats with stranger-than-fiction case studies and “worst case” scenarios.
Carol can be reached at email@example.com or by phone at 623-242-8797. For a list of Carol’s most requested topics that may be a fit for your next meeting please click here.