School is now back in session – and that means it’s prime time for bullying and cyberbullying. This is the time of year when kids form cliques, sports teams are created, and clubs are formed, ultimately creating groups of “ins” and “outs.”
And while schools and colleges know that they must put bullying and cyberbullying prevention at the forefront, their current strategies are not effective. One out of four students is bullied and depending on their ages, up to 43% of students are being digitally harassed.
It’s time for a new approach, declares Ross Ellis – a bullying and cyberbullying prevention expert, and founder of STOMP Out Bullying™ (www.stompoutbullying.org ) the nation’s leading anti-bullying and anti-cyber bullying organization. (Note to editors, producers, assignment managers: Ross Ellis is available for interviews; please contact Kaitlin Brooks at DKC Public Relations, 212-981-5181, Kaitlin_brooks@dkcnews.com ).
“We know that bullying affects millions of students of all races and classes, and that child and teen bullying and cyberbullying are at an all-time high,” says Ellis. “But zero tolerance policies don’t work, nor does anti-bullying legislation if schools don’t actually enforce the legislation.”
The most important thing to do is to “change the entire culture of each school,” Ellis stresses, noting that means “appropriate, on-going training for teachers and administrators, providing full support for the victim, changing the behavior of the aggressor, and better educating students, parents, teachers, and administrators.”
Ellis says schools must:
- Increase supervision of students
- Employ school policies and behavior management techniques in the classroom and throughout the school campus
- Promote education and cooperation among school faculty, staff, and parents
- Promote responsible digital citizenship
Ellis notes, however, that better training for school officials is only one part of the equation for more effective bullying and cyberbullying prevention. Parents must play a critically important role, she explains, pointing out that, “The most important thing parents can do is to teach their kids empathy and compassion from an early age.”
But it’s become increasingly important that parents know the appropriate signs and steps to take if they suspect their child is being bullied or is the one doing the bullying themselves.
- THE WARNING SIGNS – some tell-tale signs include your child coming home with unexplained torn clothing, missing belongings or bruises; your child has few, if any friends; he/she finds or makes up excuses as to why they can’t go to school; he/she has lost interest in school and/or often appears depressed, anxious or moody. Learn more here.
- WHAT TO DO IF YOUR CHILD IS BEING BULLIED – don’t ask if they’re being bullied. Instead find a more subtle way to approach the conversation and do not over-react. Talk to school administrators, make sure they document all incidents, and ask for their help – don’t demand it. DO NOT approach the other child’s parents yourself. Learn more here.
- HOW TO PREVENT & RESPOND TO CYBER-BULLYING – while you want to respect their privacy, your children’s safety must be first priority. Encourage your child to alert you if they see or experience questionable behavior, and contact the police immediately you see or suspect cyberbullying that involves: Extortion, threats of violence, harassment, stalking, hate crimes, obscene or harassing text messages, or pornography. Learn more here.
- WHAT TO DO IF YOUR CHILD IS A BULLY – have a frank conversation with your child. Let them know that while you love them, bullying causes pain and is unacceptable in any form. Talk to school teachers and administrators about the problem, and work with them when other instances occur. Consider any issues in or outside the home that may be causing the child to act out and arrange for your child to receive counseling to change their behavior. Learn more here.
ABOUT STOMP OUT BULLYING
STOMP Out Bullying™ is the leading national anti-bullying/cyberbullying prevention organization for kids and teens in the U.S. It focuses on reducing and preventing bullying, cyberbullying, sexting and other digital abuse, educating against homophobia, racism and hatred, decreasing school absenteeism, and deterring violence in schools, online and in communities across the country. It teaches effective solutions on how to respond to all forms of bullying. It educates kids and teens in school and online, provides help for those in need and at risk of suicide, raises awareness, conducts peer mentoring programs in schools, creates and distributes public service announcements by noted celebrities, and engages in social media campaigns. An additional focus educates parents on how to keep their children safe and responsible online.