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Anti-Bullying Awareness MonthPosted by Jen St Clair MS, LAC, CTP on 10/2/2023
Dear West Wing Parents/Guardians,
My name is Jen St. Clair and I am the school counselor for West Wing School. October is the start of cooler weather (yay!), pumpkin spice, and all things fall. What you may not know is that it is also the start of anti-bullying awareness month. We will be doing a host of activities at West Wing in October to bring awareness, prevention of bullying, spreading kindness, and showing compassion to others. As a parent/guardian, you may be asking yourself, how do I know if my child is being bullied? Here are some guidelines to tell the difference between rudeness, meanness, and bullying, according to the blog by Singe Whitson, a national educator on bullying-
Rude: This is when another child/person may say something that hurts others' feelings. This is generally not done on purpose. We may have people in our lives who lack some containment boundaries (I know I do!) and may say things that hurt our feelings without meeting to hurt us. Kids are still learning to “filter” and sometimes do not understand when they should keep comments to themselves, so depending on the child’s age this may happen frequently. An example would be “You should really cut your hair” or “That color sweater makes you look pale”.
Mean: This is when we are saying something to actually hurt someone’s feelings. This may happen once or twice. It is an intentional act done to inflict emotional pain on the other person. This is generally done as a response to feelings of anger or hurt by another person and done in retaliation. Some examples that a kid might say would be “You are so fat/ugly/stupid” or “I hate you”.
Bullying: This is intentionally aggressive behavior that is repeated over time and involves an imbalance of power. There are three key elements: a power imbalance, an intent to harm, and repeated acts/threats of aggressive behavior. Aggressive behavior can include physical aggression, verbal aggression, and relational aggression/social bullying. Relational aggression or “social bullying” is a form of bullying in which a child uses social exclusion, hazing, rumor spreading, and shunning to bully another child.
Cyberbullying is when an electronic device, whether using a phone/computer/tablet, is used for verbal or relational aggression. This form of bullying is what we see with middle school and high school kids most frequently, but can be seen in younger grades as well. We will be teaching our students to use the Stop, Walk, and Talk strategy if they ever encounter bullying. We will teach students to tell the other child to stop the behavior, walk away from the problem behavior, and if the behavior doesn’t stop tell an adult.
So, as a parent, what can be done? According to the website stopbullying.gov, here are some guidelines for parents: Recognize the signs that your child is being bullied or is doing the bullying. If a child displays any emotional and or behavioral changes, talk to your child. Many children who are being bullied or are doing the bullying will not ask for help. A child who is being bullied may need additional support from a trusted adult or a therapist, but so does the child who is doing the bullying. The old adage that “hurting people hurt others” often applies to those who are bullying others. Talk to your child about bullying. There is a great resource for parents on this website: www.stopbullying.gov/resources/how-to-talk-about-bullying.
Cyberbullying requires a different approach than other forms of bullying. Work with your child and educate them about internet safety and the importance of being careful about what is being posted online and friending unknown individuals on social media platforms. Monitor your child’s social media using a system such as Bark. At school, we monitor all student accounts and devices using Bark. https://www.bark.us/
Together, as a school and community, we can foster and safe and supportive environment for kids.
Happy anti-bullying awareness month!