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by Ronald A. Rowe | October 25th, 2013 | Elementary, School

bystandersSince the atrocious events in the Bartow, FL bullying-suicide case have gotten national attention this week, every parent’s thoughts have turn to the topic of bullying. It is hard for most of us to imagine a case as severe as the one that took place in Florida, yet if it happened there can you really be sure that something similar is not going on in your city? In your child’s school? In your child’s class?

Talk to your child early and often.

Even though your child may roll her eyes and say “mommmmm” every time you bring it up, talk to her about her relationship with her classmates. She has to know — not just surface knowledge but really know deep in her heart — that she can come to you if things ever do get dicey between her and a class bully. But that isn’t quite enough. Your child may be prepared to protect herself, but what about her friends? What about the girl in her class that doesn’t seem to have any friends? Is your child prepared to do the hard thing and come to the defense of the defenseless?

Be a pest

One hard lesson we learned from the bullying case is that Zero Tolerance is just a catchphrase without any real teeth to some school districts. Sure, we’ve all cringed at the stories of over zealous enforcement in some cases — like the recent incident of a teenaged girl disciplined for being a designated driver — but in other instances schools have willingly turned a blind eye to some very real and dangerous threats. Five separate incident reports were filed with the school before Rebecca Sedwick’s mother finally pulled her daughter out of school in an act of desperation. Five incidents ignored or handled casually by the school district entrusted with the education and protection of our children.

No matter where you send your children to school, you cannot count on the teachers or administration to go far enough to keep your child safe. You must get involved yourself. That means pestering your child until you are satisfied that you know all you need to know about their school life. If any problems do arise, it means pestering the teachers and, if need be, the administrators until you are satisfied that the issue has been resolved.

The degree of separation offered by the Internet is helping to create a new level of antagonism in the generation coming up through elementary and middle schools right now. They see the level of vitriol being thrown about so casually that they learn that it is OK to subject others to a mean-spirited barrage of hateful language online. Then they transfer the mores of the virtual world to real life.

Do not let your children be victims. Teach them how to deal with bullies. Teach them not to be bullies. Teach them to defend others from bullies. Teach them, and be prepared to step in when teaching just isn’t enough.

  1. Name says:

    I would do whatever i needed to do to make sure my child was comfortable,safe,happy,and wanting to go to school not dreding going to school. I as a parent would read learn and try to understand how to make sure my child is content and happy about going to school, because i would never want any child to ever feel that emptiness, scared, numb to life feeling i would try to do whatever possible to avoid that from ever happining!

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