Dear Families and Friends of Trinity,
October is National Bullying Month, and we at Trinity have a zero tolerance when it comes to bullying (page 42 TES Handbook). What can parents and schools do to ensure bullying is not happening in our school? The first way is to communicate and stay educated on trends and reoccurring themes. Together we must watch for the signs on how to distinguish personality conflicts between children vs. bullying. To begin the dialogue, here are Seven Bullying Myths and some of the facts.
Myth #1 You will know when your child is being bullied. Just because your child does not share with you does not mean it is not happening. Have a dialogue with your child and ask questions, talk to the teacher first and then share your apprehensions with the administration. More times than not your child needs to find their voice. Give him/her tools to work with: like refusing to provide the bully with an audience. Often if the bully is not getting a response from their target, they will go elsewhere. Please keep in mind that there is more to solving the problem than equipping the victim, we must also help the bully get to the root of his/her issue. Communicating the problem with teachers and administration is an important step in this process.
Myth #2 Bullying always includes physical aggression. Bullies are looking to have power over another individual. At times the power they seek is not displayed with physical aggression but instead manifests as name-calling or exclusion, teasing and the use of threatening language. Bullying can also be done through texting or on social media. Is it bullying when a child is excluded from a game? Yes, social exclusion can be considered bullying if a particular person or clique continuously exclude your child. It is important that teachers are aware of these situations so dialogue and intervention can take place within that classroom setting.
Myth #3 The bully is always bigger. Physical size is not a significant factor in whether or not a child is a bully. Bullying often stems from a need for self-actualization. A bully will pick on someone he/she perceives as weaker, frequently seeking a victim that lacks confidence and does not know how to use their voice. We adults must teach our children to stand up to bullies by using their voice, starting with the victim telling the bully to stop. If the victim initially lacks the confidence to speak up directly to the bully, he/she needs to tell a trusted adult.
Myth #4 There is one clear way to solve the problem. Turn your back is the clearest and easiest way, but often it doesn’t solve the problem. Fighting back is an alternative; however, Trinity does not condone fighting, and with school violence on the rise this is not a wise choice. Telling an adult and discussing possible solutions is the beginning of solving the problem. We need to ensure our children have a safe place to share their angst no matter how big or small. We must give our children a voice, and a forum like our Middle School Advisories or simply the opportunity to talk to their teacher is a good place to start.
Myth #5 If your child is a victim, call the bully’s parents. Unfortunately, emotions can overcome the logic in parent-to-parent meetings. We at Trinity are committed to our anti-bullying policy. If the bullying is happening on campus, please allow us to mediate, and together we will figure out the steps to move forward. If a bully is not able to extinguish the behavior, he/she will be expelled.
Myth #6 Boys are more likely to be bullied or be the bully. Girls can bully by creating a hostile environment for their victims. If your daughter is sad, moody, or is reluctant to go to school, please talk to her about bullying. Mean-girl bullying is just as damaging as physical aggression, and if you do not see the clues or your child does not feel comfortable to open the dialogue, it can be an awful experience. Every child must have a voice and feel included at Trinity. Sometimes an adult is the bully; coaches, teachers, and neighbors have been bullies in my life. To solve the problem, the offending adult was confronted.
Myth #7 It is not my child doing the bullying. Parents are their kids’ best defender. But sometimes we dismiss our own child’s reports about being bullied or refuse to consider that our own child is the bully. Parents must take an active role in addressing their child’s aggression, including bullying siblings. We must listen to our child. Sometimes we contribute to the problem by frequently telling our child to “stop tattling/whining.” We can unintentionally shut down their voice about a significant issue they may be facing. Your child’s safety is our number one concern, and together we will continue to keep our children safe and healthy.
Mark Ravelli, Head of School
Trinity Episcopal School
720 Tremont Street, Galveston, TX 77550