When Mean and Rude Behavior Turns to Bullying
Bill Carlson, Assistant Principal, Hutchinson Middle School
Every year when starting the second trimester at HMS we must take time to review bullying with our students and staff. Second trimester is when mean and rude behavior can turn into bullying. Bullying is described as, ‘The process of intimidating or mistreating somebody weaker or in a more vulnerable situation.’ Bullying has been around for a very long time. The nuts and bolts of bullying have stayed the same for many years but with the advancement and availability of technology the methods of bullying have reached a whole new level of harassment.
Technology like cell phones, instant photo sharing, texting, snap chat, social networks like Facebook, internet blogs and Skype broadcasts are all being used to bully. When people use technology to bully it is called, cyber bullying. With cyber bullying the victims frequently do not know who the perpetrator is and the use of technology frequently exposes the victims’ harassment to a much larger audience.
It is my experience that not all youth who taunt and hassle their peers understand the significance of their actions. It is an ordinary occurrence for adolescents to make honest mistakes in judgment, but if the behaviors they impose are recurring and are intended to deliberately hurt another; their actions need to be dealt with firmly and promptly.
Bullying is a serious wrongdoing. It can have long lasting negative effects and needs to be taken seriously. Parents can and should monitor their child’s use of technology. Having, ‘house rules’ regarding the use or misuse of technology can be very effective. This choice to be informed may be an unpopular practice but with the current climate of cyber bullying a parent needs to be informed and involved. Anyone who has a concern about the harassment/bullying of a child needs to report it immediately. Reporting concerns to your local school administration or to the police is completely appropriate and encouraged.
The responsibility to end bullying lies on all of our shoulders. The first step is to look in the mirror. How do we treat others? What are our behaviors with our own family members? How do we behave when we are angry or frustrated? Do we judge and put down others in front of our children? Do we practice tolerance and patience? It is important that as adults we practice what we preach. It is never too late to improve upon ourselves.
If your child is a victim of any type of bullying it is important that you act rather than react. Document your child’s complaints, noting dates, location and times of occurrence, witnesses, etc. If your child is the victim of cyber bullying it is important that you do not erase the material or communications that were used to harass your child. Factual evidence is of great help when bullying situations are investigated by school officials or police.
Lastly, I would like to encourage all of you who read this article to step-up, speak up and take an active role to stop bullying. As an adult we have a great opportunity each day to model positive interactions through our words, actions, and technology use. You can make a difference!