Teachers who learn that one of their students has been victimized by a bully have a number of options ranging from having the bully removed from school to initiating a productive meeting with the parents of the bully to correct the situation.
No option – Inform the parents
Contacting the parents of a bully can be risky, especially if there is denial or family dysfunction going on in the bully’s home. If serious dysfunction or marital problems exist, the teacher is not qualified to intervene further. The teacher needs to refer the matter to school authorities.
Coping with denial
If denial is the case, the parents might simply refuse to accept the notion that their child could ever bully another. If the parents remain adamant, and refuse to accept the facts, the teacher needs to show the evidence and explain the following:
* Your school has a clear moral stand against bullying.
* Bullying has consequences. Your school has clear and consistent program with sanctions and remedial programs and punishments to stop bullying.
The middle option for reasonable parents
The middle course, when it comes to dealing with parents who truly want to stop the bullying, is to bring in the parents as partners and help equip them with tools that will promote better behavior on the part of the bullying child. The tools are awareness and knowledge of the factors at home that affecting bullying behavior. For example:
* Parents of a child who bullies need to spend more leisure time together and promote a better feeling of closeness in the family.
* Parents should limit the amount of violence children are exposed to in television and movie viewing. They should talk about the consequences of violence in real life.
* Where both parents are involved in the child’s rearing, each needs to agree on the rules set for the child.
* Parents need to set firm and enforceable limits on the child’s unacceptable behavior. When the child violates the limits parents need to apply punishment which is non-physical and non-hostile,. The bullying child needs to know that the parents are monitoring the child’s behavior both in an out of school.
There’s help out there
Clemson University, among others, has an active program to deal with and prevent bulling. Its Olweus® Bullying Prevention Program is a “comprehensive, school-wide program designed and evaluated for use in elementary, middle, junior high or high schools.” Its goals are to reduce and prevent problems arising from bullying in schools. The program offers a rather expensive ($4,200) trainer certification course. If you’re looking for improving your coping skills, check with your local education association on look around on line.