Everyone is school has concerns about bullying and violence. Bullying is not just a rite of passage and part of the competitive spirit, as was once thought.  It is a serious problem in our schools and neighborhoods.  Bullies often have emotional problems, histories of trauma, and inadequate problem solving and social skills.  Bullying becomes their self-defense, so they will not be bullied or harmed by others.

Bullying is not something they will grow out of it without assistance and guidance from wise and caring adults.

Bullies look for children who are quiet, shy, timid or unsure of themselves. That’s because these children are less likely to fight back. Victims of bullies can be harmed by the experience, especially if it is chronic.

Victims of bullying often need the help of an adult to get the behavior stopped.

Bullies do not usually stop until someone bigger and more powerful steps in, such as a teacher.  However, to avoid more bullying as an aftermath, adults must obtain therapy, skill building, conflict resolution, and monitoring for the perpetrator(s).  The victim(s) may need counseling, as well.

Programs such as Character Counts and the Olweus Bullying. Program can teach a whole school about good social skills, respect for others and stopping bullying. It really takes changing everyone’s attitudes and behavior to stop bullying.

Children need to learn to respect everyone, including those that are different or vulnerable.  This involves changing the atmosphere of the school and setting good role models.  Schools need to be publicly reinforcing good skills and behaviors, as well as providing solutions to change irresponsible behaviors.

 

School Based Mental Health Services involves having mental health professionals located in the school building where they can see the problems, attend to a crisis, provide therapy, and consult with teachers and administrative personnel.  There is much research to indicate that school based mental health services reduces mental health and behavioral problems of students.

Finally, teachers and administrators cannot do this job alone.  Parents must be involved in a process of supporting the elimination of bullying in the schools.  Parent education and counseling may be needed to change the attitudes of parents toward bullying and eliminate abuse, neglect, and domestic violence at home, which may be contributing to the child’s bullying behavior at school.

There are many things that can be done to reduce bullying behavior in schools.  It takes awareness, commitment, a coalition of parents, teachers and administrators, and a lot of  work to make and implement a plan, but it is well worth it.

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Dr. Kathy Seifert  has a degree in psychology from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County 1995.  She is a licensed psychologist in MD and specializes in trauma, violence, and behavior problems among youth and their families. Her second specialty is violently, sexually, and criminally offending men and women.  She is the author of How Children Become Violent and founder of Dr. Kathy Seifert.com.