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Bullying in Elementary School

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  • vodarns
    This is a copy of an e-mail I sent on Friday about the ineffectiveness of the anti-bullying program in our Elementary school. I have been trying to work with
    Message 1 of 2 , May 1, 2005
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      This is a copy of an e-mail I sent on Friday about the
      ineffectiveness of the anti-bullying program in our Elementary
      school. I have been trying to work with the school system since Sept
      to get one child to leave my first-grader alone. I certainly wish I
      had the forsight to take her out of the situation by finding another
      school way back in Sept. I trusted the school adminstrators to deal
      with the problem. Now, after all the emotional trauma of being
      harrassed and threatened for so long, I don't think she can take
      being ripped from her support group of friends and teachers. So I
      support her everyway I can at home and send her to school praying she
      will be ok. I volunteer or "visit" her for lunch and recess
      most days.

      Unfortunatly, I doubt my child is the only one in this situation.
      When I talk to other parents, I hear that it is a huge problem. I
      welcome any and all comments and insight. Thank you, Natalie

      Dear Dr. Cousin, School Administrators and BOE Members,

      I would like to express my concern and frustration at the bullying
      problem in our school and the apparent inability of the school
      administration to effectively deal with the problem. In Hollifield
      they have an anti-bullying program they promote to the children
      as "Debugging". It involves a series of step for the children to
      follow in dealing with bullying behavior. I think it is great to try
      and give our children "strategies" to deal with bullies, but it
      should not imply that it is solely their responsibility to deal with
      the situation.

      This plan seems to enable bullies, in that the well behaved child
      will follow the steps and rules, and the bully knows, they can do xy
      and z before anyone goes to an adult. When the child cannot stand
      another minute of torment they go to the adult and are likely told to
      follow the debugging steps on their own. If the child has the courage
      to say, "but I did and they won't stop", the adult needs to realize
      they are compelled by the very plan they have implemented to
      intervene for that child. The child has done their part to the best
      of their ability and they are counting on you. Many times the child
      doesn't have the courage to say in effect "I did and now it's your
      turn to do something", they just silently retreat in despair.

      If the adult does not intervene in any significant way, then it is
      ten times worse for that child than if they never asked for help. It
      gives the bully even more power because now the innocent victim knows
      that no one is going to help him and not only are they powerless
      against the bully, no one seems to care.

      The facts are that the shy, meek child is more likely to be targeted
      by bullies, and it is so much harder for that child to go to the

      The defacto policy seems to be that unless you have physical marks,
      or the bully is either so brazen or unlucky enough to be observed by
      an adult actually acting out, you better hope you can find a way to
      stay away from them, because if you stand up for yourself, you will
      be the one punished.

      When I volunteer at the school and walk the halls and observe on the
      playground, I see that the areas most likely to be "danger zones" for
      our children are the least observed. Most bullying is not going to
      occur in the classrooms or the offices where the staff that has
      sufficient skill to identify and intervene are present. It is in the
      bathroom, hallways, cafeteria and playground. And yet those are the
      areas supervised by the fewest and least trained staff members.
      Instead of repeating the debugging steps over and over I suggest the
      staff whose job it is to prevent bullying come out of their offices
      to be where the bullies are. Come up with a plan to provide better
      surveillance in problem areas, and monitor behavior of children who
      are known habitual bullies. You may not be able to watch every
      child every minute, but you can watch the handful that are
      continually picking on others.

      When a situation is serious enough to warrant involvement of the
      administrative staff, parents expect there are clearly defined
      consequences that occur immediately. Not next time. If you say you
      have a policy of zero tolerance, then it better mean zero and not be
      something that sounds good and gets a distraught parent out of your
      office, but is never enforced. Deterrence would seem to be
      reasonable concept. Let the bullies know what the consequences are
      instead of just how many steps the victim has to take before someone
      does anything to stop them.

      If you don't have the resources you need, then please do what is
      necessary to get them. Parents are willing to help, but we need your
      professional leadership. If you need volunteers to monitor problem
      areas, we'll be there. Just quit pretending there is not a problem
      or that what is being done is working.

      This is a national emergency. Our children have many pressures to
      face that we did not. Worrying about being safe at school is
      reality. How can we be wiling to stand up to international bullies
      and yet leave our children so unprotected?

      A very concerned parent,

      Natalie Radov
    • RSYOSH@aol.com
      In a message dated 5/1/2005 8:06:28 AM Eastern Standard Time, vodar@msn.com writes: Natalie Radov ... Natalie : Have you also contacted the ombudsman? (Robin
      Message 2 of 2 , May 1, 2005
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        In a message dated 5/1/2005 8:06:28 AM Eastern Standard Time, vodar@... writes:

        Natalie Radov
        Natalie :
        Have you also contacted the ombudsman? (Robin Shell 410 313 6850).
        Not only is it her job to help to address your problem, but the more she hears stories like this personally, the more she'll she a systemic problem.
        Also you can contact Student Services (aka Guidance) at the Dept of Ed. (Lisa Boarman is the Facillitator /Counselor of Student Counseling and can be reached at 410 313 6748   AND Pam Blackwell is the Coordinator of Student Services at 410 313 6662) If the  If the Guidance Dept at your local school is not addressing a problem adequately, you can get attention by moving one more step up the ladder.
        This is not to say that contacting the Superintendent isn't a good idea - but to let you know there are other resources as well within the system if you feel you are hitting a brick wall. The Superintendent gets a lot of requests across his desk and its easy for yours to get lost in the shuffle.. so contacting him is not always the most efficient way to get what you need. By contacting the mid-level people who are responsible for specifically addressing parent issues (Robin) and guidance (Lisa) and  School Safety/ Goal 2 issues including bullying (Pam) you'll be pushing the buttons you need to get results.
        - Becky
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