BULLYING AND SAFETY ISSUES

BULLYING: SOLUTIONS & PROBLEMS

Bullying and racism can happen, anywhere. Bullying is a form of deliberate abuse. Bullying happens when a group or individual abuses an individual that is less powerful. When a student(s) bullies another student, the targets of the bullies are usually exposed to physical, verbal, and mental discomfort. Bullying is something students do to gain power over another person. When someone is bullied, that person feels stressed, and may sometimes lead to suicide. “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Bullying isn’t always physical; it can be name calling, or rejecting another person from an activity. Bullying and harassment thrives on silence. Parents can help break the silence by talking to your children about bullying and strategies on how to avoid bullying. Here are some ways to notice and prevent bullying:

1. Don’t ignore the problem! Leaving your child alone won’t solve the problem; it will make them more vulnerable.

2. Look for signs of harassment. Children may be too overwhelmed or frightened to tell you.

3. Work with teachers and schools directly so that everyone can become more aware of the problem.

4. Neighborhood parents should have weekly meetings to discuss the negative effects of bullying and solutions to prevent it from happening. Establishing a bully prevention committee is effective.

Article by Kevin Ruan, student


PLUGGED IN-SAFELY

Whether at home, in the library, or at a friend’s house, your child is likely to be online these days.  Use these guidelines to be sure he stays safe in cyberspace.

Social Networking

Sites like Facebook and MySpace are becoming more popular with middle graders.  If you child has an account, have him add you to his list of friends.  (Note: He must be 13 to join.)  That way, you can see who his online friends are and keep an eye on his postings.  Make sure his profile is private, and ask him to mark photos so that only friends (not “friends of friends”) can view them.

Surfing

Does your youngster browse sites about sports, celebrities, or other topics?  The seemingly endless amount of information online is appealing to middle graders, but it’s not always appropriate.  Help your child create a list of safe “favorites,” including kid-friendly search engines like www.quinturakids.com or http://kids.yahoo.com. You can also set parental controls that limit what your middle grader can view.  (For instructions, type “parental controls” into a search engine.)

Instant Messaging

Many middle schoolers love instant messaging—it’s fast-paced and lets them talk to multiple pals at once.  But “cyber bullies” also use IM, so your child should accept messages only from friends or relatives.  If someone harasses him online, he should report it to the IM provider and block the person from his buddy list.

Note:  If you have a computer at home, keep it where you can supervise your child.  Check the sites he’s on, and discuss what he’s doing online.

Reprinted with permission from ©2009 Resources for Educators, a division of Aspen Publishers, Inc. “Middle Years” December 2009