Addressing Bullying

Addressing Bullying

What Is Bullying?

Bullying can be defined as “the use of one’s strength or status to intimidate, injure, or humiliate another person of [perceived] lesser strength or status.” Bullying must be distinguished from other forms of peer aggression or conflict; bullying always involves a power imbalance between the bully and the target. Bullying is an intentional and repeated act, not something within the normal range of playful or joking behavior.

How Does G.R.E.A.T. Address Bullying?

The Gang Resistance Education And Training (G.R.E.A.T.) Program teaches children life skills that are useful in making choices and decisions and in setting goals for their future. G.R.E.A.T. shows children how to interact with others, communicate, resolve conflict, and manage anger through role-playing scenarios and structured activities. G.R.E.A.T. also combats bullying issues by offering components at several different levels: elementary school, middle school, and with families. The following excerpts show how bringing G.R.E.A.T. into your community will combat bullying.

Elementary School Students

“G.R.E.A.T. Beginnings: Bully on the Bus”

In this activity, six students role-play a bullying incident on a school bus. The entire class discusses the roles each person played, including naming the bully, the target, and the bystanders. Then positive solutions are discussed in small groups to determine how the bullying behavior could have been stopped. The students then reenact the same activity using the solution developed by the class.

This activity, like many others in the G.R.E.A.T. Program, is geared toward having students take part in a problem and develop their own solutions. Problem solving not only helps children in school but also allows them to practice making the right decisions when faced with tough problems in their communities.

Middle School Students

“Life in the Middle: The Locker Room”

This scenario involves two middle school students in the locker room who observe a group of eighth-graders shoving a crying sixth-grader into a locker. The two bystanders decide to say nothing for fear of retaliation.

After the scenario is read aloud, students must complete an exercise by answering questions about whether they have ever been bullied, how they would act in a similar situation, and who else could help in this situation. This helps children to focus on empathy and to understand that ignoring bullying behavior does not make it stop. In fact, it makes them just as guilty for acting as though it is not happening.

This scenario also teaches personal responsibility and when to take action. Without understanding personal responsibility, students who are bystanders are allowing children who bully to intimidate others by controlling everything around them. A communitywide solution is needed to combat bullying, and everyone needs to be involved.

G.R.E.A.T. Families

“Reducing Bullying by Developing Personal Character”

G.R.E.A.T. Families is a research-based program consisting of six family-strengthening sessions. These sessions use group interaction, activities, and skills practice to engage parents and children aged 10 to 14 in meaningful conversation for positive change. The goal of G.R.E.A.T. Families is to create a positive environment to foster safe and healthy family growth. The curriculum examines key areas for family growth, such as the role of each member in a family unit; how to meet others’ needs; the benefits of rules, limits, and discipline; communication skills; positive role models; and Internet safety. The G.R.E.A.T. Families Curriculum also features a lesson devoted to helping families reduce the impact of bullying in their communities.

Bullying is a problem in every community. By emphasizing the importance of being a positive role model for others, the G.R.E.A.T. Program works to help break the cycle of accepting bullying as a way of life.

This G.R.E.A.T. Families session focuses on the importance of developing personal character and becoming a role model for positive behavioral change. A G.R.E.A.T. Families Facilitator directly addresses bullying causes and symptoms with parents and helps families identify the solutions in several scenarios. Following the session, each family member is given a personal action plan that examines his or her behaviors and gives tips for improvement.

“Families in the Electronic Age”

Technology has an ever-increasing presence in our lives. Schools rely on the electronic posting of grades, e-mail notifications for misbehavior, alerts, and other school announcements. Communication and interactions that once happened in the classroom now occur over the Internet and cell phones. Bullying is no exception.

This session addresses numerous issues that parents, tweens, and teens face with the integration of technology into society. Cyberbullying is discussed with both parents and children, using presentations developed by NetSmartz®, a program of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. Each family observes strategic facilitation on leading a discussion about the dangers of the Internet and what to do about cyberbullying.

Warning Signs

It is important not to pick just one or two symptoms to determine whether there is a bullying situation; rather, look for patterns or a combination of behaviors.

Symptoms That Someone May Be a Target of Bullying:
  • Loss of interest in or fear of normal activity
  • Drop in grades
  • Fatigue/trouble sleeping
  • Depressed/moody/sad
  • Hopelessness, suicidal thoughts
  • Aches/pains/headaches
  • Excessive stress, anxiety, nervousness
  • Skipping school frequently
  • Unexplained physical trauma
  • Anger/lashing out
  • Loss of solid friendships
  • Guilt, embarrassment, shame
Symptoms That Someone May Be Bullying Others
  • Lies/deceives to avoid blame
  • Avoids responding when questioned
  • Responds as if irritated/annoyed
  • Complaints made by others
  • Overly critical of others
  • Need for control
  • Displays physical dominance
  • Overbearing opinions
  • Aggressive (not just toward people)
  • Inappropriate behavior
  • Uses manipulation

What Can You Do?

Parents:
  • Empower your child to speak up about any bullying situation.
  • Validate a child’s feelings as real, and consider them seriously.
  • Get involved by contacting the school administrator, teachers, other parents, etc.
  • Model appropriate behavior for your child.
Children:
  • Report any bullying activity to a trusted adult.
  • Do not feel guilty or ashamed; no one deserves to be bullied.
  • Step back and reflect on your behavior and how it impacts others.
  • Treat others who are different in a respectful manner.
Teachers:
  • Learn to differentiate between play and bullying behaviors.
  • Instill a value system in the classroom that does not tolerate bullying.
  • Make every child feel as if he or she has a role in stopping bullying.
  • Work with the administration to put antibullying policies/pledges in place.