Success Stories: Positive Outcomes
Parent Advocates Are The Best Defense Against Bullies
Parents who advocate for their children are the best defense against a bully, according to information presented by the Military and Family Life Consultant at White Sands Missile Range Jan. 11 during a parent meeting sponsored by the Child, Youth and School Services.
Parent advocates are the best defense against bullies
By Miriam U. Rodriguez
Jan 29, 2010, 08:57 am
Parents who advocate for their children are the best defense against a bully according to information presented by the Military and Family Life Consultant here at White Sands Missile Range Jan. 11 during a parent meeting sponsored by the Child, Youth and School Services.
According to information presented, 86 percent of 9 to 13 year olds say they’ve seen someone being bullied and 48 percent report they’ve been bullied.
Bullying is described as a conscious and deliberate hostile action intended to hurt or control another person.
As a parent, you should know that children who are bullied often won’t tell because they are ashamed of being bullied or they are afraid of retaliation. They don’t think anyone can or will help.
Some children have bought into the lie that bullying is a necessary part of growing up by their peers, siblings or even their parents. Other children believe that telling an adult is the same as tattling or they’ve been made to feel, by adults in authority positions, like they are doing something bad by telling.
According to the information presented there are several types of bullying:
•Physical bullying: Hitting, picking, biting, hair pulling, threats of physical harm
•Emotional bullying: Excluding child from a group and social activities, spreading rumors.
•Verbal bullying: Name calling, making fun of the child, mocking.
•Sexual bullying: Inappropriate sexual comments, unwanted physical contact.
•Racist bullying: Using racial slurs, making fun of racial, ethnic or cultural differences.
•Cyber bullying: Spreading rumors, hurtful images or messages through cell phone cameras, instant messaging, e-mail, Internet chat rooms and websites.
Bullies come in all shapes and sizes. Although both boy and girl bullies engage in all types of bullying; boys use physical bullying more often than girls and girls use emotional bullying more often than boys.
Bullies typically target those who are different and who they think won’t fight back. Bullies are intolerant of differences and may have a low self-esteem, but can outwardly appear extremely self-confident.
A child who is bullied is usually different in some way, may have a low self-esteem and often feels isolated and powerless.
Some of the signs that a child is being bullied include:
•Obvious signs such as: Bruises, black eyes, cuts and scrapes or torn clothing.
•A child who doesn’t want to go to school
•Decline in grades
•Changes in routine
•Missing money or belongings
•Unusually hungry after school
Parents can help prevent bullying by doing the following:
•Don’t blame the victim; Let them know you hear them and that it is not their fault.
•Validate your child’s feelings-don’t minimize them.
•Encourage your child to talk.
•Advocate for your child; get others involved: teachers, guidance counselors, and friends.
•Be aware of age appropriate interventions.
Parents can teach their children tips:
•Practice assertive body posture with your child
•Teach your child to ignore the bully and walk away
•If it feels safe, teach them to look the bully in the eye and say something like “I want you to stop” or yell “Stop It” inside a classroom to get the teacher/adult to notice the bullying in action
•Let them know that telling is not the same as tattling.
•Whenever possible teach them to use the buddy system-there’s safety in numbers.
•Encourage your child to develop more friendships by joining social organizations, clubs or sports programs.
If your child is doing the bullying it is your responsibility as a parent to stop it. Bullying is often a result of insecurity or unhappiness.
Without intervention, bullies may become more violent and commit serious crimes as they get older; according to information on www.stopbullyingnow.org, sixty percent of boys who were bullies in middle school had at least one criminal conviction by the age of 24.
According to the Las Cruces Public Schools student handbook “bullying behavior by any LCPS student in the LCPS is strictly prohibited, and such conduct may result in disciplinary actions, including suspension and/or expulsion from school.”
“Bullying means any repeated and pervasive written, verbal or electronic expression, physical act or gesture, or a pattern thereof, that is intended to cause distress upon one or more students in the school, on school grounds, in school vehicles, at designated bus stops, or at school activities or sanctioned events. Bullying includes, but is not limited to, hazing, harassment, intimidation or menacing acts against a student which may, but need not be based on the student’s race, color, sex, ethnicity, national origin, religion, disability, age or sexual orientation that a reasonable person under the circumstances should know will have the effect of”:
•Placing a student in reasonable fear of physical harm or damage to the student’s property; or
•Physically harming a student or damaging a student’s property; or
•Insulting or demeaning any student or group of students in such a way as to disrupt or interfere with the school’s educational mission or the education of any student.
Students and parents may file verbal or written complaints concerning suspected bullying behavior with school personnel and administrators. Any report of suspected bullying behavior will be promptly investigated. If acts of bullying are verified, prompt disciplinary actions may be taken against the perpetrator, up to and including suspension and/or expulsion. No investigation shall be delayed more than three (3) school days without the knowledge and express permission of the Superintendent of Schools.
Sherry Ganuelas, White Sands Schools' counselor, said the school deals with bullying using a multi-faceted program. Students are encouraged to report bullying and to use strategies to self advocate.
“We want students to understand that they have a right to a safe and comfortable learning environment,” Ganuelas said.
Representatives from La Piñon, Sexual Assault Recovery Services of Southern New Mexico, were out at the school the week of Jan. 25-29 to talk to students in grades K-8th about body safety.
The school also uses the Strong Kids curriculum, a school district curriculum, to teach students strategies to deal with bullying.
Ganuelas said the school is also in the process of training peer mediators to help resolve conflicts out in the school playground during recess and at lunch time.
Another program used to deter bullying is the Junior Student to Student Program. The program, sponsored by the Military Child Education Coalition, takes a group of students with strong grades and model behavior and trains them to help welcome new students to the school. It is designed to help guide new students through their uncertain surroundings, offering valued information from a peer's point of view, such as friendship and assistance in the areas that matter most.
If you have concerns about bullying at school contact Principal Kathy Vigil at 674-1064. You can also fill out a bullying report form at www.lcps.k12.nm.us/.
The following resources were used by the MFLC in compiling the presentation: www.stopbullyingnow.org; www.hrsa.gov; www.kidshealth.org; www.bullying.org; www.childline.org; www.bullyingnoway.com; www.dod.mil/mtom/; www.kidsareworthit.com.