Bullying and Cyberbullying – these are topics on the minds of many educators, parents, and everyone who works with youth, especially those who have special needs. The month of October is National Bullying Prevention Month, schools and whole communities join forces to explore the best Anti-Bullying and Bullying Prevention ideas and to raise awareness that more needs to be done to tackle these serious issues.
Those who work with kids, tweens and teens know too well why you must stop bullying to avoid long term harm – to the bully and the victim. They know problems surrounding all forms of bullying are far reaching and may affect the victim, the bully, and even the silent bystanders for a lifetime.
Peer cruelty, bullying, and cyberbullying must be understood and we must learn to respond effectively with the bullies and how to help the victims. Many have a role to play in bullying and cyberbullying prevention from the bystanders, parents and other caregivers to educators.
It is never too early to start discussing with children at home and at school how to deal with bullies. We recommend this delightful picture book we reviewed for Special Needs Book Review: Howard Binkow’s beloved character, Howard B. Wigglebottom, teaches youngsters strategies to deal with bullies in Howard B. Wigglebottom Learns About Bullies.
For our Special Needs Book Review site I read and wrote a review of Bullying and Cyberbullying: What Every Educator Needs to Know by Dr. Elizabeth Kandel that would benefit all whose paths cross with kids, tweens, and teens. The following is one of our questions to Dr. Kandel and her response:
Lorna: What do you think has been wrong with the way bullying has been dealt with until now? Why was it not effective? What are more effective strategies?
<<Dr. Elizabeth Englander: There are definitely obstacles and problems preventing us from being more effective, but I don’t think the problems are always what we think they are. For example, I really haven’t met many parents or educators who truly don’t care about these issues. The parents I’ve studied and met in the field often feel like they really don’t know what to do, and it’s not unusual for educators to feel the same way!
Part of the problem is that despite beliefs to the contrary, it’s not always obvious when something is bullying. If you’re a teacher and you see a child being laughed at, it’s hard to know if it’s the first time that’s happened or the hundredth time. And even when you know something is bullying, it can be difficult to see how to respond. Parents often want to help their child come up with a smart comeback that will shame and stop a bully, but these snappy comebacks – especially online – can actually escalate the problem. Ignoring bullying can work, but it only appears to be effective among children of certain ages. Adults focus a lot on stopping the bullying, but that’s not always possible, unfortunately, and we may not focus enough on building the kind of relationships and connections with kids that really help them withstand a peer’s cruelty.
Several studies have shown that kids feel that the best strategies aren’t those that attack the problem, but those that are emotionally supportive. But there’s a fine line here; we don’t want to suggest to victims that it’s their own fault that they’re targeted; but we do want to suggest to them that they’re strong enough to learn to ignore mean people. The reality is that all of us have to learn how to cope with some cruelty; in extreme cases, kids need both our support and our active intervention. In less severe cases, sometimes our support will be enough.>>
Read the complete interview with Dr. Elizabeth Kandel, a professor of psychology, founder and director of Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center. Dr. Kandel works and speaks on anti-violence, bullying and cyberbullying.
Thanks to the William Syndrome Changing Lives Foundation for the permission to use their Infographic,
HELP STOP BULLYING
Williams Syndrome Changing Lives Foundation
- Book Review of Bullying and Cyberbullying: What Every Educator Needs to Know by Dr. Elizabeth Kandel Englander