Monday, May 17, 2010

Bullies & Victims: What Teachers, Mentors and Parents Need to Know

The topic of bullying (even the word is ugly) is in the news a lot lately. The following article, from Skipping Stones Magazine, (an International Multicultural Magazine)  contains good information, some advice and is a way to introduce this great resource.

Kids who feel unsafe in school are more likely to drop out. Even in the most caring school communities, many kids face disrespectful and sometimes abusive, bullying from other kids. This is one of the many challenges that students face today. may help teachers, mentors and parents identify and address bullying behaviors.

Students can be bullied because of as race, social status, sex, age, disability, physical features, or being otherwise different. Bullying can take the form of name calling, teasing, fighting or attacks, taking money, vandalizing belongings, and may result in anger, fear, sadness, insomnia, lack of appetite or withdrawal from activities. Falling grades, mood or habit changes, drug or alcohol problems or self-esteem issues may also result.

There is a fine line between bullying, school violence and violation of human rights. Bullying even violates some of the articles in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. For example, Article 12 of this declaration states: "No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honor and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks."

To empower your students against bullying, you may wish to share the following advice:

• Be kind and respectful to yourself and others. Minimize or avoid contact with people who diminish others.

• Believe in yourself. People can make you feel inferior only with your permission. If you strive to be a good person each day, no one can diminish you on the inside.

• Practice withholding judgments of yourself or others. Take the time to get to know people to end gossip (myths).

• If you are a bystander, report incidents of harassment to an adult. You will not be tattling. Rather, you will be alleviating the suffering of another student and creating a support network for someone in need of your empathy and compassion.

• If, as a bystander or victim of bullying, you do not get help from one adult, continue to look for an adult who can help and seek support from family and friends.

If students, teachers and parents everywhere work on this issue, eventually there will be less school violence in the U.S. and around the world. Everyone has the right to live in peace on Earth—free from harassment and intimidation.
-- Patricia Wong Hall, educator, Oregon.

Skipping Stones Magazine
P.O. Box 3939
Eugene, OR 97403 USA.
Telephone: (541) 342-4956