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Beline Obeid

What can schools do about bullying?


October 11, 2012
Q. I am a middle school counselor, what can schools can do about bullying? A. Relational aggression or bullying is a behavior intended to harm someone by damaging or manipulating his or her relationships with others. It is a serious issue affecting children as early as preschool age and can continue into adult workplaces. The National Education Association reports as many as 160,000 students miss school every day out of fear of being victimized by such behaviors. Bullying can be diffi - cult for an outsider to observe, identify or prove for a variety of reasons. A roll of the eyes, a heavy sigh, a snub in the hallway or exclusion at the lunch table are all subtle examples of discrete bullying. While relational aggression can take many forms, some of the methods include: exclusion, ignoring, gossip, rumors, taunting, teasing, intimidation and cyberbullying. Some examples include hurtful graffi ti on the bathroom walls, text messages, and spreading rumors and lies. These can destroy a child's reputation. Bullies can easily deceive adults as they tend to be part of the more popular crowd in a school setting, often are very confi dent, do well in school and classmates rate bullies among the 'coolest kids.' It is imperative school personnel and parents understand bullying is not just a part of growing up. In fact, being bullied places the child at a higher risk for developing problems in school and at home. What schools can do Increase awareness among school staff. Observe students in the classroom, at lunch, in the hall, and on the playground. Note their nonverbal reaction to peers, and consider the following: Who spends most of his/her time alone? Who is a group leader? How do his or her followers act? Discuss relational aggression with students in order to make sure they know that starting rumors, ridiculing others and any form of covert bullying is unacceptable. Believe the victim; relationally aggressive youth are often skillful at concealing their actions, and many educators may be reluctant to believe a model student is engaged in bullying. Find assistance for the victim and the aggressor. Contact a parent or work with staff to foster their social and emotional development. Information provided by Georgia Michalopoulou, Ph.D. , Chief of Staff, Child Psychiatry/Psychology - DMC Children's Hospital of Michigan. She is an assistant professor at Wayne State University School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Neurosciences. The Family Center, a 501 (c)(3), non-profi t organization, serves as the community's centralized hub for information resources and referral for families

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