What is “Bullying”? The school handbook defines it as: “overt,
repeated acts, including physical, verbal, or any other behaviors,
that are committed by a student or group of students against
another student with the intent to harass, ridicule, humiliate, or
intimidate the other student”. Bullying can include battery,
tripping, intimidation, rumor spreading and shunning, demands for
money, theft of possessions, destruction of another’s work or
property and name-calling. Additionally, in today’s high-tech
world, hundreds if not thousands of children are experiencing
bullying over social networking sites and texting every day.
Parents: you must talk with your children about this issue and
be able to recognize the signs of a child who is being bullied.
Some of those signs are: loss of interest in school work, doesn’t
sleep well, sad or depressed, afraid to go to school, comes home
with torn or dirty clothes, may have abrasions, cuts or bruising
and isolating one’s self from other friends. If you see these signs
you must talk with your child. Furthermore, you must call the
school and alert them to the possibility that your child is being
bullied. I would also recommend contacting all the child’s teachers
to have them monitor the situation.
As school administrators and I talk with adolescents, we tell
them we cannot fix the problem if we don’t know about it. There are
people out there who want to help. It is important for all
students/adolescents to know that they can report bullying when
they see it.
Likewise parents, here are some signs that your child might be
the bully: teases or threatens other children, hot-tempered, cannot
follow rules, may be aggressive toward adults, shows lack of
sympathy for those that are bullied, positive attitude toward
violence, or involved in other antisocial behavior (thefts,
criminal mischief, etc.). I would encourage you to talk with your
child, involve a counselor (private or school) and hold them
accountable in your own home. Bullying often starts at an early age
so parents should watch the interaction of their child in the home
with other siblings, on the playground and monitor any school
So what do we do? If you believe your child is being bullied you
must sit them down and talk about your beliefs. Tell them that it
is not their fault and that is all right to tell you what happened.
Additionally, assure them that something will be done. There is a
real fear of retaliation and shame that children have when this
happens. You must take action that the child sees as tangible.
Furthermore, I would suggest trying to foster other positive
relationships for your child by involving them in some
extracurricular activity, youth group or sport that may allow for
the development of other meaningful positive interactions.
Here at Portage High School we have adopted a “Harassment Order
to Cease and Desist”. It is a form designed to identify harassing
behavior and potential bullies. Additionally, an “Action and
Supervision Plan” for those committing the acts is developed that
incorporates and involves all facets of the school staff (i.e.
Admin, SRO, Counselor, Teacher, etc.). The form must be signed by
the student (bully), parent of the bully and an Administrator. All
PTS schools are devoted to facing and dealing with issues of
bullying; Parents, how you respond can make all the difference in
the world to that child/victim.
This column solely represents the writer’s opinion.