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Is bullying a problem in the Mt. Diablo school district?

By Theresa Harrington
Saturday, October 29th, 2011 at 3:42 pm in Education.

Northgate High School’s crisis counselors recently held a parent education night to discuss issues of importance. According to an email blast from the school’s Parent Faculty Club, parents were especially concerned about bullying.

Here’s information from the email, which includes useful information for all parents and students:

“Since it was clear that many parents had felt the effects of bullying first-hand (their child had experienced some type of bullying in the past), we felt like it would be beneficial to provide an overview of bullying to all the Northgate parents. Much of the following has been taken from the National Crime Prevention Council website. We hope that this information can help parents better understand what bullying is and can assist parents in supporting their kids, either as the victims of bullying, the witnesses to bullying, and/or as the bully him/herself.

What bullying is

– Fighting, threatening, name-calling, teasing, or excluding someone repeatedly and over time

– An imbalance of power, such as size or popularity

– Physical, social, and emotional harm

– Hurting another person to get something

Many parents don’t think that bullying is as big a problem as bringing a weapon to school or drug use but its effects can be severe and long lasting. Every day, nearly 160,000 children miss school because they are scared of bullying, according to the National Education Association. Bullying doesn’t only negatively affect its victims, but also the bullies themselves.

Kids who are bullied are more likely to

– Do poorly in school

– Have low self-esteem

– Be depressed

– Turn to violent behavior to protect themselves or get revenge on their bullies

Kids who bully are more likely to

– Do poorly in school

– Smoke and drink alcohol

– Commit crimes in the future

Parents can play a central role to preventing bullying and stopping it when it happens. Parents are often the best resource to build a child’s self-confidence and teach him or her how to best solve problems. Here are a few ways you can help:

– Teach your teen to solve problems without using violence and praise them when they do (i.e. walking away, using humor to diffuse the situation, talking it out).

– Give your teen positive feedback when they behave well to help their build self-esteem. Help give them the self-confidence to stand up for what they believe in. With your teen, practice walking upright, looking people in the eye, and speaking clearly.

– Ask your teen about their day and listen to them talk about school, social events, their classmates, and any problems they have.

– Take bullying seriously. Many teens are embarrassed to say they have been bullied. You may only have one chance to step in and help.

– Don’t encourage your child to fight. This could lead to him or her getting hurt, getting in trouble, and beginning more serious problems with the bully.

– If you see any bullying, stop it right away, even if your teen is the one doing the bullying.

– Don’t bully your children or bully others in front of them. Many times kids who are bullied at home react by bullying other kids. If your children see you hit, ridicule, or gossip about someone else, they are also more likely to do so themselves.

– Encourage your child to tell an adult at school. Explain to your child that “snitching” is when you report something just to get someone in trouble. ‘Telling’ is when you report that you or someone else is in danger.

– If your child is telling you that someone else is being bullied, encourage your child to take a stand against the bully by reporting it to an adult.

– Involve your child in activities outside of school. This way he or she can make friends in a different social circle.

In general, be ready with your ears when your teen does decide to open up, even if it’s to share simple news.

One great place to engage your teen is when you’re driving in the car together. When you are sitting beside each other in the front seat of the car, you’re facing forward. With both of you looking straight ahead, you’ve created a non-confrontational setting, in which a conversation can start and flow more easily.

Also, whether it’s in the car or somewhere else, when your teen is sharing some news, it helps to encourage more dialogue by saying, ‘Tell me more.’ This simple request gives your teen an indication that you’re interested in what they’re saying. At the same time, it’s completely non-judgmental; you’re not offering an opinion on what way just said.

Often when parents attempt to provide heartfelt advice, even with the best of intentions, teens will perceive it as a ‘lecture’ and automatically shut down the communication process.

Asking a question, on the other hand, will generate a response and lead to a dialogue. A question, particularly one that requires more than a yes or no answer, engages the brain.

Asking more and telling less also gives parents a better opportunity to learn what pressures their teens may be under. Whether it’s bullying, relationships, grades, or something else, the information more likely will come to light by asking simple, non probing questions.

Here are some websites that provide more detailed information:

http://www.education.com/topic/school-bullying-teasing/

http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/parents/bullying.pdf

At the October Parent Advisory Council meeting, James Wogan talked about programs in the district that deal with bullying, along with programs for foster youth and homeless students. Here is a link to video of a portion of that meeting: http://qik.com/video/44833116.

More information about the Positive Behavior Team is at http://www.mdusd.k12.ca.us/schoollinkedservices/#. Click on CARE team.

Do you think bullying is a problem in the Mt. Diablo school district?

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