Melissa Chapman and her brood of three live in the urban concrete jungle of NYC. She writes Kids in the City Kids in the City a weekly column and blog for the Staten Island Advance, contributes to SheKnows, Time Out NY Kids Time Out N...
The suicide of Phoebe Prince, a 15-year-old Massachusetts high school student, has cast a bright light on the dire -- sometimes fatal -- consequences of extreme bullying. According to news reports, Prince was the target of self-described “mean girls” and male classmates who engaged in relentless name-calling, exclusion and harassment – in person, by text messages and on Facebook. Unfortunately, the school administration and staff failed to intervene in a timely manner. Many believe it was ultimately their silence and inaction that effectively allowed this bullying to escalate, with tragic consequences.
Four non-negotiable tips to help your kids tackle bullying head-on
Gregory offers the following tips that go beyond the anti-bully rhetoric and provide concrete ways parents can help their kids prevent bullying and stop bullies in their tracks.
1. Tell your kids to stand and be heard
Bullies believe they are invisible or invincible -- bring the bullying activity into the open.
Call it what it is: bullying.
Garner community support by asking to speak at a PTA or school board meeting.
Tell your own parents and ask for help -- you don't have to handle this alone.
Talk with your child's guidance counselor -- the more eyes watching, the better.
Ask the community to acknowledge that bullying is a form of hate crime.
2. Help kids develop self-awareness
Parents can encourage kids to use these strategies:
Recognize your worth, your potential and your magnificent humanity.
Watch which bullying comments stick to you; ask yourself why you believe what they are saying.
Ask people whose opinion you value to share what they see in you.
Seek positive reinforcement -- standing up to the bully is its own form of positive reinforcement.
3. Build community awareness about bullying
Identify the specific community and family behaviors that support bullying.
Bring in speakers to educate the community on the causes of and remedies for bullying.
Set the expectation that community members be aware of bullying and act when they see it.
Create Bully-Free Zones (integrated with systems like Neighborhood Watch).
Certify neighborhood and/or organizational Bully-Free Living advisors.
4. Create a bully-free support system at school
Start or join a bully-free support group at school.
Ask teachers or counselors to act as champions for Bully-Free Living.