Story last updated at 3/20/2013 - 11:46 am
Imagine your child has been acting strange for the past few weeks. The things he used to love, he's just not that interested in anymore. He comes home from school with and out-of-character frown on his face that stays there until he goes to bed, or you find a way to make him crack a smile. He doesn't tell you, but he's being bullied at school. He feels lost and alone, and in his mind, telling someone will only make the person who is bullying him even angrier. It seems like the teachers don't notice or care. This is the reality for about 75 percent of a middle school population. You suspected this was going on, but you didn't really think much of it. Kids will be kids, right? Although that is right in some cases, it is wrong in this one.
Bullying has become a serious problem in today's society. It not only hurts on the inside, but on the outside of about 14 percent of teenagers being bullied. In a recent study done by mental health doctors around the United States of America, the likelihood of adolescents participating in self harm and even committing suicide are higher than they've been in years. This is very much related to the bullying that happens daily in school. Parents and teachers need to take more actions to help prevent future bullying in school.
But what exactly can you do as an educator or parent? In a recent interview with Tom Milliron, principal of Floyd Dryden Middle School, he opened up about the steps he is taking to help prevent future bullying. "My plan is to introduce a character building class for all students," Milliron said. "The goal with this program is to minimize how much bullying happens by teaching students classroom management and healthy lifestyles."
One of Milliron's coworkers, Ray Vidic, also believes bullying should have already been taken care of in the first place, but also something we could introduce in our schools. "There needs to be a 'Culture of Caring' taught in the first grade and forward, so there is a taught respect of how students should treat each other. If they are taught, students can recognize bullying when it happens," Vidic said. He shared how much bullying he has seen in his time of being an educator. He sadly finished his statement with, "Kids these days clearly haven't been taught what bullying is and the harm that it can cause."
What Vidic explained, I later realized, can also be taught in the loving environment of a home. WebMD studies have shown that parents who do, in fact, teach their children in a 'Culture of Caring' from the time they're born, to the time they grow up, better understand that hurting another human being is wrong. Parents can not only educate their children of the harms that bullying can cause, but they can also be involved in their child's life at school. Studies have shown that a student with an involved parent is less likely to bully someone else, and kids won't bully the student because they aren't a target if they have a parent with them-they're protected, and that's no fun for a bully.
On the other hand, one may say that parents and teachers need to do what some parents do with their babies: self-sooth and work the problem out by themselves. This is a solid point, as today's society often leans on others to fix their problems for them. Certainly, children need to be more independent. This all being said, you've read what may be going on in your child's life at school, you've read about the harms that it can cause, and you've read what Floyd Dryden is doing about the issue. Now it is your time to act, and choose whether or not you want to help.
In conclusion, parents could be doing more. As Tom Milliron said, he's introducing character building education and he's doing his part. Now it's time for the parents to step in. If you notice your child is down, talk to them, let him know you're there for him. Bullying is not something to be ignored. In fact, when bullying is ignored, there is a greater risk of the adolescent committing suicide, or hurting himself. And to the students being bullied, Milliron offers his advice, "It's okay to rat on a rat, as I like to say." He says with a smile on his face. "Tell the staff and tell your parents, because we can't do anything about it unless you do. You're not alone. We (the staff) are here to help you."