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Moms Talk: Talking to Kids About Bullying

This week, we ask moms (and dads) to discuss best practices for handling situations where a child is being bullied or the one doing the bullying.

This week’s question: How big of a problem is bullying in our community? What suggestions do parents in Milpitas have to address it with children?

Ask anyone if they were bullied (or if they ever bullied other kids) while in school, and you are sure to get a story or two that includes name calling or stolen lunch money. 

Bullying has been around for generations and a part of growing up for some, but parents may find themselves in these situations for the first time when it involves their own child.

San Jose resident Nelli Gage did when her grandson revealed to her that several of his third-grade classmates would tease and hit him at recess. Even though he was bigger than his tormentors, he didn’t want to fight back, and things got worse, she said.

“School should be a place where a child feels safe," she said. "It was getting so bad. It was a lot of name calling, shoving, and trying to make him cry." Gage finally scheduled a meeting with her grandson’s principal. 

The principal promised to do several things, including increasing recess supervision, but didn’t follow though with any of the changes, said Gage. “Luckily, [my grandson] was able to stop the bullying on his own. He just got tired one day and turned around and hit the other child, and that [finally] stopped it.”

In addition to your ideas on how parents can address bullying with their children, we found what educators are doing to increase awareness of the issues.

Here's what a local school and the county Board of Education are doing to address bullying:

  • This week, in Milpitas will host Oskar and the Big Bully Battle (see video above), a touring assembly co-developed by TheatreWorks and the arts educators. Using lots of audience participation, songs and comedy, the play looks at bullying and things kids can do to deal with the issue.
  • A new with a lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender focus has been established by the Santa Clara County Board of Education to come up with "outside the box" recommendations. The committee will provide recommendations to the board on April 20.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 15-25 percent of American students are bullied with some frequency. In California, there are several laws that deal with various types of bullying.

Jennifer Armstrong April 05, 2011 at 10:48 AM
On the Lion's Whiskers blog www.lionswhiskers.com we talk about helping our children develop six types of courage: physical, social, emotional, moral, intellectual and spiritual. Standing up to a bully or defending a friend against a bully or noticing bullying tendencies in ourselves may require two or more types of courage. If we focus on courage, we believe, we can activate our other virtues - compassion, loyalty, empathy, honesty, and so on. Without the courage to enact those virtues they remain abstract. Bullying is a complex problem and may require different courage responses from different children, so we try to develop all six with stories, practical techniques, and "courage challenges," helping our children recognize their own capacity for courage, whatever problem they have to confront. Waiting until bullying is a problem for our child to take on this parenting challenge is akin to using the emergency room for primary care. Courage development can be part of our parenting practice from the time our kids are toddlers, so that when they arrive in a context where bullying is possible, they have the courage skills to manage the situation.
Kelly McBride April 06, 2011 at 05:16 PM
What a great resource! I agree that the focus on bullying needs to focus more on prevention versus disiplinary action after the fact! Thanks for sharing Jennifer! Another idea that didn't make the article is the book "One" by Kathryn Otoshi. It's a very simple and colorful book that shows kids that it only takes one person to say no to a bully. I have a friend who's son had started to pick on kids in his kindergarden class. She bought this book and said it has really helped him understand his actions and helped his behavior at school. Here is the link: http://www.kokidsbooks.com/
Blessy Smith April 08, 2011 at 12:09 AM
Parents played the most important role as their kids grow up. It is also their responsibility to guide and discipline their kids because they are the reflection of what their kids could have done. I never failed to guide and educate my children when it comes to their behavior and also I provided him a safety service that can protect him in times of dangerous situation. I registered my son to SafeKidZone for his protection. It has a mobile security application that enables my son to summon help from trusted people and with access to the nearest 911 when safety issue arise. This is how I protect my child check out: http://safekidzone.com/
Lannah Sawers-Diggins April 22, 2011 at 02:54 PM
My whole family has experienced bullying. Mine occurred thirty-forty years ago, in the days before bullying was recognised and acknowledged, over six nightmare years at a boarding school in Australia. Thirty years later my niece suffered the same experience at the same school only her cries for help were heard and heeded and she was removed. Usually I would have said she was running away from the problme but in her case, it was the best move she could have made. She thrived. Both my daughters were bullied in some of the many schools they attended across several states in Australia. Both their partners were bullied. My husband was bullied. And on it goes. I am now fighting a one-woman battle to try to let other victims know they are not alone, to try to reach bullies themselves to give them some idea of the kinds of effects their actions have on their victims, if they care. And just to raise awareness in the general community, particularly among disbelievers or don't-really-carers. I had a book published last year which is entirely devoted to case histories of victims of bullying from around Australia and one fom the UK. I am looking heavily for support particularly from parents who have been victims themselves as well. Should you be interested in helping me in any way in this fight, PLEASE feel free to contact me: abccalligraphy00@hotmail.com I don't know what the answer is but I am trying to make a difference. Thanks. Lannah Sawers-Diggins

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