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On Bullying and the Benefits of Classroom Communities

I recently read about a local high school where their students had been participating in something called “May Madness.”  Evidently it is a school-wide “tradition” where a bunch of boys put together a bracket of girls, and then vote on who is hotter.  The winner moves up the bracket, while other girls fall of because they weren’t pretty enough. Eventually there is a winner, and proclaimed the hottest girl in school.

Unfortunately we hear stories like this all of the time, in all plains of development.  The preschooler calling people names, the elementary student throwing food, the middle schooler asking someone out as a joke… Bullying is an epidemic in our schools, and it has become easier than ever before.

IMG_2954Schools are working desperately to try and change this.  There are assemblies, social thinking curriculum, letters to parents, and committees formed just to name a few.  This last year my son’s elementary school adopted a motto that they were “Kind and Compassionate.”  The school did everything listed above.  My son became very familiar with these words, and loved to point out when he thought I was not being very “Kind and Compassionate.”  But all of that talking didn’t come close to instilling what those values really meant.  He would still make comments as elementary kids do.  He would still come home on the verge of tears because some other kid said something mean to him.

So how can we change this cycle?  There are some great suggestions from stopbullying.gov.  There is an article written on how to engage parents and youth.  In this article, they focus on 3 things-

  • The benefits of parent and youth engagement
  • How parents and youth can contribute
  • School Safety committees

The article is written in bullet points, so it is a quick read, and well worth your time to check out.  Here are a few highlighted ideas from the article….

  • Parents can contribute to a positive school climate through the parent teacher association, volunteering, and school improvement events.
  • School staff can keep parents informed, make them feel welcome, and treat them as partners.
  • Parents can share the family viewpoint and keep other parents in the loop on committee work.
  • Educate the school community about bullying to ensure everyone understands the problem and their role in stopping it.
  • Students feel safer and can focus on learning.

IMG_0841I am a working mom, and can’t attend class parties or functions.  Before the class started using Bloomz, I felt left out, and detached from what was happening on a daily basis.  My son would come home and talk about something that happened, and all I would do was send a note to the teacher asking him to take care of it.  I didn’t know class parents, nor did I want to randomly look up their number in the directory and cold call them in the middle of dinner.  I can say without a doubt from last year to now, that I feel 100% more comfortable reaching out to a parent if there is an issue.  Even though I still can’t attend school functions and chat with the room moms, because of Bloomz I know their faces, and who their children are.  I can send them a quick message through the app and it instantly becomes less formal, and makes it easier to talk about challenging issues.  I get pictures of what is happening in class.  The school posts updates on bullying curriculum in real time, so I can reiterate at home what is being taught in school, and has opened up amazing dialogues between my son and myself.  Last year I never had these opportunities, because at most I would get a flyer home in the backpack, well after or well before the event occurred.

Can Bloomz stop bullying in schools?  We would love nothing more.  But no.  We can’t.  We can however create a more cohesive school community, where communication between parents, children, teachers and schools are seamless, effective and authentic.

If you would like to read the entire article Engage Parents & Youth, please visit

http://www.stopbullying.gov/prevention/at-school/engage-parents/index.html

One thought on “On Bullying and the Benefits of Classroom Communities

  1. “Bullies to Buddies” I hear is excellent counseling. As I have thought about this, I think a common problem may be the child’s permission to protect himself physically. Adults don’t know how to do this with violence against the bully – so they make the “victim” child into a defenseless wimp, waiting for some adult in charge to protect him. I think it’s important to teach and approve of a child protecting himself physically, if necessary. It is possible to do that without emotional reaction and hatred towards the offending party. But if the child is not given permission to physically protect his own body from violation, parents are neglecting their child to an evil and perverse world. I suggest doing some “act out” drama to show how to block a blow; or use other forms of defensive interaction that shows strength without reactive aggression towards the other party. Frederick Douglas, reported that the slaves that were beaten the most were those that most easily allowed that to happen.

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