03-29-2017 01:09 PM
New member @spaceman recently asked a very interesting question. His post is here. And the question is:
"My wife and I were discussing bullying with my kids around the dinner table the other day, and the advice/experience from my eldest was "DON'T tell the teachers, it'll only make it worse". I asked him "if you could make a better policy to handle school bullying, what would you do?" and he replied "I honestly have absolutely no idea". So what to be done if telling the teacher only makes matters worse?! How could/should this be done better?"
It's such an important question because, as so many parents learn, the young people at the receiving end of it are unfortunately the ones who know what does and doesn't work. So if the feedback is, telling teachers makes it worse, then who can they go to?
I understand your son didn't have an alternative answer @spaceman which makes sense, we don't either! But did he say what else DIDN'T work? All the research and certainly my experience working with young people shows that telling someone makes a huge difference. In terms of both feeling supported and believing it will end. Do you think your son would agree?
I know @Maggiemay & @Jacew & @Elena and many other parents here have experienced this first hand, as well as parents who have seen this occurring at the schools their teenagers attend or in the lives of the children of friends etc. I'd love to hear what you all think.
03-29-2017 02:13 PM
@Ngaio-RO and @spaceman - yes, bullying is a very tough subject with no simple solution.
From my daughter's experiences, telling a teacher is actually not helpful but actually counter-productive. It is so frustrating with all the anti-bullying campaigns run through schools. It seems schools say all the right things, but when it comes down to it, they don't actually do any of those 'right' things.
My daughter was persecuted by teachers and both she and I were told she needed to harden up and ignore it. There was a particular girl who was bullying numerous girls, and the school was very well aware, but the bully was never pulled up.
On another ocassion two girls posted a video online paying out on my daughter for her mental health issues. I knew the girls and the parents. One parent was fantastic - she brought her daughter to my home to personally apologise to my daughter and she was educated and disciplined by her mum. The other girls parents were the opposite, showing me that some kids who bully have parents who bully.
These parents are very loud and aggressive, and I got the feeling the school did nothing because of it. Easier to make my daughter wear it than have to stand up and defend her against a threatening parent - despite the school having the video! I wonder how often this occurs?
Kids need to be able to talk to an adult about it. I'm at a loss too though, because what can parents do when schools refuse to do anything?
03-29-2017 02:56 PM
@taokat I'm so interested in what you said. I was just piecing together an idea in my head. I don't know if it works or not but...
I wonder about the 'buddy' system where the older students mentor and look out for the younger ones. It's in so many primary schools but rarely in high school.
Does this give a student someone to talk to, someone who's nearly an adult by the time they're in Yr 11 or 12 but at the same time someone closer to their own age who is more relatable? Does it also give some sense of ownership of the bullying policy to the students as they have to help each other face up to the idea that bullying does really exist? All the workshops and discussions teachers have with students, all the "don't be a bully" conversations don't have as much impact as having to actually deal with bullying in a hands-on manner.
As you point out @taokat quite often the teachers ignore it or if they do speak to the parent the parent often denies it's an issue, and I think a lot of bullies operate knowing this safety net exists. Would they be so quick to bully if they knew the situation was going to be dealt with by their peers? And as they got older and became the mentor to a younger student might they begin to realise the weight of their own actions and if nothing else at least gain better insight into the impact of bullying and become an adult who doesn't bully?
My son had an awful time on the bus in Year 8, with a boy in his year level forcing him to sit with the junior school students then taunting him for doing so. If one of the older kids had simply stepped in and policed where the kids sit the problem would have been solved. There was a bus captain but it's often a token position. It seemed the older kids were oblivious - they didn't know my son so it wasn't their concern.
My fear is that it could become a bit "lord of the flies" so there would need to be clear steps that the students took when an incident of bullying was reported to them, but if schools had cross-year mentor groups where younger and older students worked together, under the guidance of the principal or senior staff, then the bullies will realise they actually have to deal with their peers if they cross the line.
Still just a thought...
03-29-2017 03:00 PM
03-29-2017 03:28 PM
@mum2twins I love your thinking!
At my daughter's high school, she had a peer support student from year 10 in her first year. It was great, this girl would come and check in on my daughter, and she felt she had an older student she could turn to. It would be great if that continued past year 7.
"My fear is that it could become a bit "lord of the flies" so there would need to be clear steps that the students took when an incident of bullying was reported to them, but if schools had cross-year mentor groups where younger and older students worked together, under the guidance of the principal or senior staff, then the bullies will realise they actually have to deal with their peers if they cross the line."
I really love this idea. I think it would work really well!
I agree with @Serapis22 too. Quite often the bully has been a victim themselves, which is something I think we need to remember. We are protective of our own kids when they are bullied, and it is easy to forget that the bully is suffering in their life as well. Thank you for raising that point! It is a good reminder.
03-29-2017 03:49 PM - edited 03-29-2017 03:50 PM
Sorry @taokat sometimes the 'like' button doesn't exactly convey the sentiment. In your first post, I like that you shared your story with us but of course I intensely dislike everything your daughter went through. With the small exception of the one decent parent that dealt with it appropriately. That situation you describe with a school not wanting to 'deal' with certain parents, I've experienced something similar. A boy in my son's class was hurting the kids daily but the dad was a genuinely bad man with a very real and serious reputation. It was just too much for the school. They wouldn't deal with the issue properly for fear of retribution. Eventually the family moved to another area and became someone else's problem. Tbh, the saddest thing was watching this boy knowing he had very little chance of not repeating the cycle as very few people would ever intervene on his behalf.
And I completely agree @mum2twins there does seem to be some answer in stronger peer intervention but I too fear the 'Lord of the Flies' scenario. I've heard too many accounts of kids in boarding schools or similar, where the kids are left to their own devices too often, it's always great for some and horrific for others.
Some of the research suggests the American model of seperating the ages more has good outcomes. Having 'Middle School' which would be about Year 6 to 10. With the seniors seperate, getting ready for adulthood. That way your buddy wouldn't be too much older. Because I think there's some potential in that buddy / mentor type relationship.
@taokat I also really liked your comment "It is so frustrating with all the anti-bullying campaigns run through schools." What do others think? Should these programs be run independently of schools altogether? This article had a big impact on my view of bullying programs. In it she says "In fact, some schools actually suffered an increase in bullying during these campaigns."
My instinct says the best approach is an holistic one. Where programs and services educate and support young people, and their parents, both in and out of school.
04-01-2017 03:31 PM - edited 04-01-2017 03:33 PM
Firstly, thanks @Ngaio-RO for posting the question that I initially posed when introducing myself.
Secondly, apologies for going silent after that initial post. I've been interstate on business for the last week (which is actually very rare in my job/position) so have been very distracted with that.
I don't have much to add at this time, except to agree that, maybe, some sort of formalised peer support within high schools might be helpful.
I will make an effort to contact the high school where 2 kids of my kids are now (and 2 more will be eventually!) to get their feedback on this.
04-04-2017 12:36 PM
Absolutely no worries @spaceman It was an interesting question. Glad to hear you're back with us.
Let us know how things go with the school.
04-04-2017 08:43 PM
@spaceman Such a great idea for 11 and 12s to assist .. it woul take some set up and training for the older students. Many schools also have student services support officers who can advise with any issues, even ask the schools for incursions to be organised if the problem does not go away. It is something which i agree can often be swept under the carpet yet needs to be addressed. In the meantime what support can be given the the students outside of school to build self esteem for later life, karate, yoga, self defence, meditation, art and self esteem groups. Unfortunately, life does teach us many strong lessons at school ... its great that you can communicate so well at home with your loved ones - that sure is gonna help ... good luck with it all!
04-05-2017 11:56 AM
Some wonderful suggestions @Red21
It's great to see you mentioning the Student Support Officer (SSO) role. It's not as familiar as Welfare Teachers and School Counsellors because it's a new role and not all schools are funded for them, but if your school has one I highly recommend you grab them for a chat.
Among the many amazing things they do for students and parents is linking them to external services. The premise behind the role was to help schools to connect with the community and all the available resources and services.