Thursday, October 31, 2013

Tranquil Thursday: Autumn Woods

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by Greg Seitz

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Bullying in Schools: Elementary to Middle School, Our Experience

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Bullying in middle school starts in the first week of classes, when students are establishing their status and friendships. They may try bullying a student to impress others or just to make themselves feel better.
The teachers and administration need to be proactive in this issue. To announce their expectations for the students' behavior as much as they emphasize the expectations for homework.
When bullying occurs, teach the whole class what the expectations are, again. Bullying is not acceptable, the parents of the bully should also be taught what the expectations of behavior are for their children.
Peer mediation fails at all grade levels as it gives the bully a platform to intimidate again.
The attitude we experienced of the middle school staff, specifically, the social worker, towards verbal bullying is weak and ineffective. It was stated to me that “well, at least he's not in danger of getting stabbed or shot, the kids are just using words...” Word will and can drive a student to suicide as discussed in several articles in Psychology Today :

and also here:

The school districts policy toward bullying is intentionally vague: 

The District cannot monitor the activities of students at all times or eliminate all bullying. However, to the extent such conduct affects the educational environment of the school district and the rights and welfare of its students and is within the control of the school district in its normal operations, it is the District’s intent to:
• Prevent bullying by teaching and modeling positive behavior, and
• Investigate, respond to, remediate, and discipline bullying behavior that has not been successfully prevented.

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The social worker's solution was to observe the classes for the bullying behavior. What bully is going to engage in that behavior with an extra set of adult eyes watching? The result was she and other adults saw no peer interaction with my child. So basically, if they are not bullying him they will ignore him and exclude him.

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 I find the lack of a coherent bullying policy negligent on the part of the school district. I have been aware of the need of a policy for student behavior since my child was in the first grade. We moved schools in 3rd grade because of the ham-fisted way our neighborhood elementary school handled the situation. It was so bad that I began to feel bullied by the principle. I was called and yelled at by the principal. I was told not to talk to the other children without the consent of the parents when all I had done is model for my son (who was yelling at his bully,) to state calmly to the bully what behavior was bothering him. The end result was I was informed that bullying can go two ways and my child and I were part of the problem. 
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This was not the case. My child was systematically bullied by the other child multiple times and the school had been made aware of the problem previously. This was the second year that my child had been bullied in their school. Rather than beat my head against a wall constructed by an insensitive, ignorant administration at the school, I moved my son to a different school within the district. We still had some trouble with bullies, but it was dealt with in a explicit and efficient manner and it was made clear to the student and parents what was acceptable behavior. I have had to use moving schools as a strategy twice now in his school career to deal with bullying, and he is only in 6th grade. 

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I have instructed my child that for the remainder of the time he is in school, if he is bullied he is to walk away from the bully. He is to tell the teacher he is being bullied and wants to go to the office, once there he is to tell the staff that he is being bullied and he wants to go home, and I will come and pick him up. This not only makes the teachers aware of what is happening in their classrooms it makes the school administration aware of it too. A bonus is it tracks the class it occurred in and my child doesn't have to endure an entire day of being bullied. 

resources: Saint Paul Public Schools Policy 505.00
 Adopted: 8/21/2012, page 84/164