Age-old problem of bullying fueled by social media, technology access
OCTOBER 18, 2012 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NACOGDOCHES — No classroom, school or town is immune to bullying, and the pain it causes — emotional or physical — has been endured by generation after generation of youth.
Communities across the nation address the issue each October during National Bullying Prevention Month.
Nacogdoches ISD does not tolerate bullying on its campuses, said NISD Superintendent Fred Hayes.
“I realize bullying is a serious issue, and it becomes more serious as kids have access to social media sites and other technology,” Hayes said.
The added reach of technology means that more than 13 million children nationwide have been victims of bullying. Too few — only 36 percent — reported it, though.
The district works to alleviate the age-old problem by giving students tools to deal with bullying and teaching them how to build relationships.
In addition, a “bully box” on each NISD campus gives students a way to anonymously report bullying. Campus principals should be contacted if a parent is concerned about an incident or bullying report.
Physical confrontations and locker gossip have been common approaches for decades. However, modern day bullies have added technology to help them inflict pain — be it text messages or social media sites.
Acts of aggression known as Cyberbullying occur when “someone repeatedly harasses, mistreats, or makes fun of another person online or while using cell phones or other electronic devices," according to the Cyberbullying Research Center.
Of the adolescents surveyed by the research center, 83 percent used a cell phone at least once a week — which opens the door to cyberbullying possibilities.
Make a Difference for Kids, an organization geared to stop cyberbullying, suggests that parents teach their children how to handle online attacks in three steps. First, tell the child to not respond to the bully. Second, block the bully and limit all conversations to those whom you can trust. Finally, tell a trusted adult about the cyberbullying.
What can parents and students do to take a stand against bullying?
BullyBust, an initiative of the National School Climate Center, gives this advice to deal with bullying.
Parents and guardians
Stop and listen when your child is being bullied. We need to take complaints seriously. It's easy to think “bullying toughens kids up in helpful ways,” but it's just not the case. Being bullied—and bullying others—has very serious and negative consequences, and it's a signal that the child is in trouble.
It is most important to take immediate steps to protect the target of bullying. If your child is being bullied, confer with other caring adults in your child's life (teacher, counselor or principal)— they are there to be your partners. It is also important to respond to the bully. To get to the root of the issue, we need to understand why the bully is acting this way. Bullies are typically students who are in some sort of trouble and need adult help in addressing unmet needs.
• Learn and Show
Ask your child about bullying to better understand how it manifests in school. Explain why it's important to be an upstander (a person who who stands up to bullying and becomes part of the solution to end harmful harassment, teasing, and violence in our nation's schools) and point out real life, relevant examples. Make upstander behavior an implicit—or explicit—model of relating with the world.
• Partner with Educational Leaders
Parents and guardians can and need to partner with teachers and school administrators to create comprehensive and helpful bully prevention and pro-upstander efforts. Effective effects need to be a long-term school-home and community partnership that is committed to recognizing and helpfully addressing bully-victim behavior as well as promoting the skills, knowledge and dispositions that support upstander behavior.
• Students who are bullied
• Don’t ignore the whole situation: When you are being bullied, you naturally just want to make it all go away. As a result, some of us just keep everything inside or even avoid going to school! Sometimes the bully does stop and moves on to someone else, but this doesn’t always happen.
• Always tell an adult you trust: Tell your parent, trusted teacher, school counselor or other trusted adult about what’s happening. Share all of the details, and let them know how this made you feel. Ask them what to do next.
• Keep in mind that no one deserves to be bullied. Bullies are not bad people, but they are doing bad things. Sometimes kids become bullies because they are bullied at home by their parents and are determined not to be bullied at school—so they bully others instead. Knowing this will help you understand that the bullying doesn’t have to do with you, but with the bully.
• Never fight back, but let the bully know you are not an easy target. Stay calm, and tell the bully with confidence and determination to “Stop it,” and to “Leave me alone.” Walk off with confidence.
• Stand up to the bully if you feel ‘safe enough’: This is sometimes easy to say and much harder to do! If you do feel safe enough, confront the bully by telling him or her how you feel, why you feel the way you do, and what you want the bully to do. For example, “I feel angry when you call me names because I have a real name. I want you to start calling me by my real name.”
• Be an Upstander even when you’re not being bullied. Learn how you can actively fight bullying in your school.
• Do not respond directly to the bully’s teasing: Sometimes we just feel too scared to respond. Not responding is actually another good strategy that we can use when we are being bullied. To the best of your ability, just walk away! This also an important tip to remember when dealing with bullying online. Keep harmful messages from spreading by not responding, adding comments, or sending them on to friends. (Again, it is important to let an adult know about this. When you are bullied online, print out a copy of the text or picture and show it to a grownup).
• Don’t blame yourself! It is common for students to feel that they have somehow “caused” the bullying. Remind yourself that it’s not your fault and talk to a friend, adult in school, or parent about the way you feel! Write down your good qualities and discuss them with your family, and use this list as a reminder if you start to blame yourself or feel down.
Students who see someone else being bullied
Tell an adult: Some kids think this is tattling or being a snitch, but it is not. When you tell an adult, you are helping someone else who needs support. Most adults really do want to know about bullying and they want to help. If you tell a grownup about this and they don’t respond, find another adult you trust and tell them. Many schools have programs to not only help prevent bullying, but to support people — kids and grownups — standing up to bully behavior and saying “no, this is not an ok way to act!”
• Stand Up! See the 10 Ways to be an Upstander in your School.
Students who bully
Actually, there are a lot of kids who act as a bully at some point in their life. Usually, this is because there is something that is making you feel really bad. We might think that if we are “really strong” and push people around it will make us feel better. But this is never okay, and pushing people around will only make you and others feel worse. If you have been a bully, talk to an adult you trust. A lot of us are scared to tell a grown up that they have been a bully, but most adults will understand and want to figure out a plan to help you feel better and/or deal with whatever is making you feel bad.
Another very common reason why you may be bullying is that everyone else in your group is doing the same thing. This can make you afraid that if you stop being a bully that you won’t have any friends. Again, it is important to talk to an adult you trust. If you are not sure who to trust, see your school’s counselor, principal, nurse or assistant principal. They are often people in school who not only care, but will have very specific ideas about how best to deal with these kinds of situations.