Dr. Borba: What to do when bullying won’t stop or intensifies


(Blog editor: Dr. Borba provides excellent advice. I can’t recommend this column strongly enough.)
Dr. Michele Borba
It’s been ten years, but I am still haunted by the memory. It was in Ottawa, Canada. I had just finished giving a keynote address on bullying to a large group of educators in Ottawa. A gentleman was quietly waiting by the stairs to speak with me. As I approached him, he silently handed me a picture of an adorable eleven-year old boy. With tears in his eyes, the man explained that the photo was his son who had hung himself because he was bullied. He said he had to talk to me. He’d listened to my speech and knew that if people had only listened to what I said about bullying, his son would be alive today. He asked me to please keep warning parents of the consequence, and then he hugged me quietly walked away. …

Here are nine things to do if your previous efforts fail and bullying intensifies:

7. No face-to-face contact. Distance your child from the bully: class, lunch, bus, team. Ideally the bully should not come within a certain number of feet of your child. Don’t allow a child who is bullied to be put in a “conflict resolution” situation to “air out differences” with a bully. This is not the bullied child’s problem nor is it a “conflict.” This is cold-blooded, one-way intentional cruelty on the part of the bully.

8. Be prepared for resistance. Don’t be surprised if you are told to “toughen your kid up.” And don’t be shocked if the bully’s parent is a bully herself. In a national PTA survey found only one fourth of parents support contacting other parents to deal with bullying. A bully’s parent usually denies their kid is guilty and may blame your child as well as feel you are criticizing her parenting. You may need to get an objective outsider like a principal or day care supervisor to mediate. A diplomatic: “I’m concerned about the relationship between our kids” may be your best opener. And if you get a call accusing your kid, listen. He just may be less innocent than you think. Full story.

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