For National Bullying Prevention Month we asked author Shannon Perry (with Master’s degree in education and counseling) some tough questions about bullying.
What do we need to teach our kids about bullying? What should a child do if they become a bully’s target or witness an act of bullying? And what do you do if you find out if it’s your child who is bullying others?
Shannon Perry offers some good bullying prevention tactics:
Linda: Shannon, I’m glad, as you are a certified instructor in crisis counseling, that you’ve taken the time to talk with me about bullying. Can you describe to me what the act of bullying actually is?
Shannon: Bullying is a form of behavior used to negatively affect others where there is an “imbalance of power.” This “imbalance” may be perceived social or physical power and may be based on the grounds of race, gender, sexuality, religion or other perceived positions. Bullies like to dominate others and are very “self” focused. While some bullies believe they have the right to treat others as they choose, many bullies are simply insecure. Some bullies are victims of bullying themselves and others suffer from mental disorders and need psychiatric attention.
Linda: As responsible adults, what can we do to help prevent bullying?
Shannon: Teachers and parents have the responsibility to teach children how to recognize bullying and employ tactics to deal effectively with it. There are many steps that parents or educators can take as preventative measures for bullying:
- Teach zero tolerance for any type of bullying behavior.
- Show positive examples of acceptance of others via family time, the newspaper, magazines, tv, etc.
- Discuss appropriate ways to handle/display anger.
- Teach words of reconciliation and empathy such as “I’m sorry, please forgive me.”
- Discuss movie scenes that involve bullying. As a family, discuss the appropriate behavior that should have taken place in bullying situations.
Linda: If a child is being bullied by his peers, what steps can he take to stop the bullying?
Shannon: Here are some practical things to do when confronted by a bully:
- Hold your head up and look confident. Refrain from having a hurt or fearful look on your face.
- Keep your arms to your side and stand confidently on both feet. Keep your hands out of your pockets; not folded or held up as if you want to fight.
- Keep non-threatening eye contact with the bully.
- Don’t run away unless you are in danger.
- Don’t get physical with the bully or argue in return.
- Do something that brings you confidence in your everyday life by developing a skill you are good at or taking a class.
- Find good, true friends and share your pain with them once they can be trusted.
- Tell trusted adults that you are being bullied. Talk to someone UNTIL YOU GET HELP! If the first adult does not take you seriously, keep going to adults until someone believes you and does something to help you.
Linda: If a child realizes that his behavior toward others is bullying, how can they change their behavior?
Shannon: Behavior modification starts at home with the parents. If you find out that your child is being a bully, stay calm and meet with the adults who have witnessed the behavior. Apply clear and significant consequences and require (and witness) your child to apologize to any he/she has offended. If necessary, “shadow” your child at school for a day. Go everywhere he/she goes and monitor behavior. Immediately reinforce positive behavior when your child does good and immediately seek professional help if the bullying behavior continues for an extended period of time.
Linda: If a child’s peers are bullying a classmate, what is the best way for a student to stand up for the classmate without being bullied himself?
Shannon: If you are a by-stander and see someone being bullied, you can also use the strategies listed above. But, for example, if someone is being bullied about his hair, you can say something like, “I think his hair cut looks like Justin Bieber, and I wish my hair looked like his!”
Next, ask the victim to walk away with you.
Some counter-bullying tactics include getting a third party involved. For example, the victim may wish to confront the bully who has been spreading rumors about her. To do so, it would be wise to discuss this action with an adult then have others present when the interaction takes place.
More About Shannon Perry – Shannon is an author, recording artist, conference speaker and radio host who often tackles issues such as bullying. Her brand-new conference, “In Her Shoes,” is designed specifically for mothers and daughters, tackling issues such as bullying, self-esteem, body image, social media, dating as well as other topics affecting tween and teen girls. Shannon holds a Master’s Degree in Education and Counseling and is a Certified Instructor in Parenting Classes and Crisis Counseling. For more information visit www.ShannonPerry.com.