October is National Bully Prevention month, a time for a renewed focus on bullying---the identification, response, and prevention of bullying. Through our One Voice, One Choice alliance this past year, our student members created the message It’sUp2U. In expanding on this message, the idea is truly the following: It’s up to me. It’s up to you. It’s up to all of us to make a difference in the lives of others and our community.
How do schools, parents, and the community teach kids to appropriately interact with others in daily life and through the use of their electronic devices? All can be a part of educating our children and youth in understanding acceptable behaviors, differences in others, solving conflicts, and managing emotions.
With a shared responsibility, we must come together to teach our kids about:
Kindness, compassion, and respect
How one’s actions make other people feel
Controlling one’s aggression
Why bullying is hurtful
Sensitivity and understanding
Empathy, tolerance, and awareness
When it comes to bullying, it might be easy to say, “My kid would never do that.” One of the best programs this year on bullying, I believe, was the Dateline episode, “My Kid Would Never Do That: Bullying.” In this Dateline story, parents watch on hidden camera how their kids respond to bullies (actors) in person and online. In this feature, there is also a twist where parents witness a bullying situation while being filmed on hidden camera, as well. In the middle of bullying situations, the bystanders quickly realize what is happening, and they recognize the bullying taking place. The participants, for the most part, are clearly uncomfortable with what’s occurring. The responses, however, will vary with each participant. The kids and adults alike are faced with the following thoughts/decisions:
Should I intervene?
What would I say?
Will I become the target of the bullying instead?
Do I join in on the bullying?
How will others view me if I say something?
The question: Do you really know how you would respond in such situations?
With peer pressure, our kids may have difficulty making decisions in intense times when they witness bullying in person or online. Under pressure, does a kid succumb to being a part of the bullying, does he/she speak up, or does he/she remain silent? We may think we know how our kids will respond, but again, under pressure, our kids may/may not respond as we would think.
To combat bullying in our schools and community, our kids must recognize the signs of true bullying and what to do when bullying occurs. When bullying occurs at school, at a school-sponsored activity, or on a school vehicle (i.e. a school bus), students should report incidences in a timely manner to teachers, counselors, principals, and/or other District personnel. This information, in turn, is shared with campus administration. The report can be made via one of many avenues:
Reported directly to the teacher, counselor, principal, and/or other District personnel
Submitted online anonymously via the NISD Tip Line (The NISD Tip Line can be found on the homepage of the District site under the Quick Links or on any campus’ website.)
Texted to 274637. NISD must be the first word in the body of the Tipster’s text. Tipsters should be as descriptive as possible including the following information: who, what, when, how, campus, etc.
Reported via the NISD Mobile App (then select the NISD Tip Line)
Our kids must be taught to not be a bystander but to report bullying when it is witnessed. Being silent is not the solution to resolving bullying as it takes everyone coming together to protect others. Unfortunately, negative messages often travel more quickly, and our kids must learn to not perpetuate this negativity through written, verbal, and/or electronic means. Our kids need to identify true bullying and know how to get help for themselves or someone else who is experiencing intentional harm or repeated intimidation from others.
Because others are different does not make it OK to harass or bully them. Our kids must be taught by all that bullying others because of their differences or for any other reason is unacceptable! We must teach our kids empathy, tolerance, and awareness. Each individual has a voice, and we must join together to say no to bullying and harassing others!