Bullying: Teaching your child how to handle conflict (Pt.3)
This is the last installment of the article ‘Beneath the bulling, another victim’ written by Eric Gosier, Times Columnist for the St. Petersburg Times, on September 17, 2002.
“The chain of accountability that used to keep behavior corralled into manageable range has been broken: Children are shipped to schools miles outside the neighborhoods where they interact with children they see only at school. Parents know teachers only through the names that appear on report cards.
With so much working against them, school officials deserve praise for keeping schools grounds from becoming more battleground than they are. Until that continuum is resurrected, until parents assume more responsibility for guiding their children, until we as a society learn that setting boundaries for children is as important to a child’s development as letting them explore new ones, schools will be stuck in its growing role of treating symptoms.
It was disheartening to think what lies ahead for my grandson’s 6-year old bully. Pinellas County schools have a program of training for teachers and administrators devoted to bullying. It is run by the Safe and Drug-Free Schools Program and came into being about nine months ago after analysis disclosed that two-thirds of school shootings involved young people who had been bullied.
Consequently, said Linda Jones, supervisor of the program, the emphasis is on teaching children who are being bullied how to respond appropriately. She and Jan Urbanski, one of the prevention specialists conducting the training, confirmed some of my conclusions about bullying and said there has been little research.
They do know that the bully is searching for power and control, and it’s most prevalent in middle school, that in earlier grades it’s more likely to result from a lack of social skills than an ingrained desire for control, that it’s easier to fix at that stage.
I was surprised they did not reject out of hand my advice for my grandson. Within the three R’s taught in their training — recognize, refuse and report — I suppose my suggestion would fit under the refuse part. Jones and Urbanksi emphasized, though, that the victim should resist only when he determines it’s safe to do so.
With any luck, the little bully will acquire some social skills and become a well-liked, healthy citizen of his school and community.”
We often don’t want to think of the bully as a victim also, but that could be a very logical explanation? Barb North, a well-known mediator and coach indicates that “…unresolved conflict is everywhere around us.” She goes on to list the damage that unresolved conflict can have on our families: domestic abuse, custody battles, communication breakdowns; to our schools: student and faculty assaults, harassment, lost class time; to neighborhoods: neighbor disputes, gang violence, police time wasted; to businesses: loss of productivity, needless litigation, backstabbing, retaliation; to innocent parties: collateral damage of every kind.
Is your child’s teacher(s) trained in conflict resolution? Is there an anti-bullying program, conflict resolution, or peer mediation program in your child’s school? This writer would like to suggest that our parents take some time to find out exactly what their school is doing to manage bullying and conflicts between students. This is for your child’s health and well being. And your peace of mind.
Until next time…