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    Discuss Bullying with others. Start a Discussion. > We Can't Stop Bullying

    The majority of us were bullies, victims of a bully, or witnesses to bullying at some point during our public school experience. No matter what we did, we couldn’t stop it then and we can’t stop it now. A common definition of a bully is a person habitually cruel to others who are weaker. This type of intimidating behavior has taken many forms over the years and currently exists in many places other than our schools, and can consist of surreptitious threats on the internet. The results have intensified in their severity all too often ending in emotional turmoil and sometimes in suicide. Some have claimed that we can stop bullying. Many believe that a particular program or “silver Bullet” is the pathway to its demise. Bullying is not likely to be stopped, but we can decrease its impact and severity.

    Colorado Law now requires public schools to develop bullying policies and procedures. Schools must report the status of bullying relative to that policy annually, including any bully-proofing programs established under the policy. Such mandated policies are often weekly monitored and end up as attractive but meaningless, artifacts on school walls. A policy, defined as a plan or course of action, must consist of enough detail to actually address each instance of bullying from the time it comes to the school staff’s attention through resolution to actually creating a positive outcome.

    Communication among schools, children, and parents is an essential first step. I made a home visit one winter evening to check in on a bullied student. As his principal, I wanted to visit with his single mom about a plan to address her son’s issues as a victim of bullying. As I climbed the stairs leading to their front porch, my shoes thumped and squeaked in the cold packed snow alerting mom that she had a visitor. She cleared a small space in the window to look out and saw it was me. Her face paled, eyes wide in fear as she unlocked and opened the front door. She greeted me by pleading, “Please sir, don’t tell me.” Since I also served our community as county coroner, parents often had this reaction to my visits whenever they had family members away from home. Home visits were a common practice as part of our school’s discipline process, particularly when a child was being bullied. Gaining an understanding of the life around the child who is being bullied, as well as the bully, helped us resolve the issue before it reached a crisis which, unfortunately, required at times a return home visit by me as the coroner.

    We need to start dealing with bullying as a potential crisis situation. For example, whenever there is a possible intruder threatening the safety and welfare of students, a school lock down or evacuation procedure is immediately put into place. During such process, every adult and child in the affected school knows their individual responsibility and reacts accordingly to avert a crisis or reduce its severity. We can enact the same type of detailed process with bullying in which parents, students, and staff know their individual responsibilities when they witnesses it, report it, and or hear of it and respond appropriately to address it. Every parent should ask for a copy of their school’s procedure to address bullying and know that if and when it occurs there is a detailed plan to address it from the time it is reported to its resolution. Some schools currently have such a process in place. The parent should also be aware of their responsibility in the process. Parents should be able to ask any student or staff member what they are required to do when bullying is brought to their attention as a witness, a victim, or a bully and receive a clear response.

    Although we can’t stop this crisis-ridden behavior altogether, with enough parental pressure for a clearly defined procedure, we can decrease its frequency and severity. As a parent, find out if your child’s school has such a process, and if not, ask why one is not in place. Does your state legislature need to extend its policy to require such detail? Whatever needs to be done must be done to assure that each instance of bullying is thoroughly addressed. If such a process can prevent even one student from taking his or her own life, it is well worth the time and effort. The next life lost could be that of your son or daughter.

    Rudy F. Malesich

    February 20, 2012 | Registered CommenterBullyPTA