Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Remembering Bullying

In 3 Ways I’ve Seen Bullying Stopped from Cool Cat Teacher Blog, Victoria A Davis, Cool Cat Teacher, talks about bullying. She shares,

Four and a half years I lived bullying. I cried every day after school when I made it to the respite of my room at home. I often ask myself what I would have done if my bedroom weren’t my solitude? What if I couldn’t get away? Even if bullying “goes away” the scars don’t.”

I too remember many years of bullying, especially in junior high. Being a minority student made me different. At that age, students like to pick on the one who is different and I was the target. I hated being different and I so wanted to be like everyone else. I just wanted to blend and relax. It seems like every day I arrived at school on “high alert” and didn’t relax until I got home. I couldn’t share the feelings of fear and insecurity at home because my parents were proud of being Chinese and just didn’t understand what I was going through. They both grew up in Chinese communities so they were part of the majority then and didn’t realize how hard it was to grow up as the minority in a school in the 60s.

I remember thinking about how I wish the teachers would intervene. Of course, they couldn’t intervene if I never told anyone that I was being bullied. Then again, I always wondered how the teachers could not see that bullying was going on. I knew if I told, the consequences at the hands of the bullies were far worst then what I was already suffering through. I knew that I hoped someday to be a teacher and help students that would go through the same types of situations that I faced.  Did they turn a blind eye because they thought it would make me a stronger person? Or did they turn away because they didn’t know how to address it?

I know that today we talk about no tolerance for bullying. We try to teach our children how to stand up to bullies and encourage them to stick up for others who are being bullied. Administrators tell school personnel that bullying won’t be tolerated. We watch videos on bullying and how it shouldn’t happen.

Bullies are good at hiding their actions and teachers need to be more vigilant in looking for situations. We need to take away opportunities for bullies to take advantage of their weaker peers. We need to have a way for students to let adults know whey they see bullying going on but feel helpless to act on another person’s behalf. Students know sometimes better than adults when bullying is happening so we need to encourage them to let us know about it. I remember teachers telling students not to be a tattletale so I wonder if that is why no one came forward when they saw bullying happening.

Do we really train our teachers enough on how to deal with bullying in their classrooms? Do we have specific procedures in place for what needs to be done when bullying happens? Or do teachers all deal with this in their own way for their own classrooms? Is their dialogue between teachers at general meetings on how situations should be dealt with? Some teachers may see certain situations as bullying where others don't. What procedures are teachers expected to follow when they feel bullying is happening. 

I try to encourage students to tell me when something is happening that can hurt a student either physically or emotionally. I need to teach them there are appropriate times to tell an adult about certain situations. Sometimes we might get told more than we want but I would rather know more than to miss a chance to stop a situation that involves a bully. As a person who was bullied, I would have loved for a teacher to intervene just once on my behalf.

I know there are policies against bullying but does your school have actual procedures on dealing with bullying? Please share.

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