Parents and Schools: A Partnership to Prevent BullyingJanuary 8, 2014
When I was growing up, my sisters and I were the first Hispanic students in our northern Chicago neighborhood. As you can imagine, we were not immediately accepted by many of our classmates. Kids can be cruel, and we felt that very personally, sometimes on a daily basis. As much as I want to protect every child from ever experiencing that, I know as an educator that the bullies out there are sometimes facing their own trauma, and have no idea how to cope with it other than by lashing out.
When someone is bullying, they have a lot of aggression, a lot of pain, and misplaced anger. Sometimes it’s ignored because others view it as just the way kids are—kids are cruel and they’ll grow out of it. In many instances, though, bullying starts with what the child sees at home. The child will model the behavior he or she sees at home. Children need to get their frustrations and energy out, and they will mimic the behavior of others because that is the only way they know. If they see violence in the home, they will be violent. If they hear shouting in the home, they will shout. If they see swearing or name-calling, they will repeat those behaviors outside of the home. The child will absorb and internalize those behaviors and feelings and may bully others as a result.
We have lost too many kids to bullying. We’ve lost them to suicide, and we’ve lost them academically and socially. Whether these children are the victims of bullying or they are the bullies themselves, grades get worse, students drop out of school, and some join gangs or engage in other high-risk behaviors. We need sustainable prevention and intervention embedded throughout the school curriculum.
We have to remember that bullying is always present in our children’s lives and in our schools, therefore educators need to continue to address it just as they address curriculum and learning. Educators can’t do that, though, without parents who are supporting their children at home and are communicating with the school about what their children are going through. Both parents and educators are here to give our children and students the best chance in life. To do that, we have to work together on issues like bullying. When left unchecked, these issues can destroy our children’s futures, but the right intervention can save lives and strengthen our communities.