The most important aspect of bullying and the aspect that is often misunderstood by ADULTS is that IMBALANCE OF POWER between the bully and the target. That is, the bully perceives he/she has power over the target he/she has selected to bully. Bullying manifest in many different ways:
* Physical Violence * Psychological and Verbal Abuse * Taunts, Teasing, and Name Calling * Social Ostracism * Spreading of rumors; which may or may not be true * Sexual Harassment
This negative behavior by the bully is self-gratifying and rewarding by lack of adult intervention. Therefore, the bully's behavior must be addressed immediately. Keep in mind that in some cases targets may "fight" back. One must understand that the imbalance of power is still there when a target fights back. The target fights back due to the lack of effective adult intervention and the lack of adult supervision.
The bully often defends his/her behavior with comments "He/She started it" or "I was just kidding." Remember, it is all about the bully's behavior and his/her behavior needs intervention.
Keep in mind, when a student tells an adult that she/he is experiencing bullying/peer mistreatment it is usually because they have tried solutions that have failed to stop the bullying. An adult saying: "Have you tried this, or Have you tried that..." are inappropriate responses. The appropriate approach is the ask the child what is going on, who is involved. If it is the parent who the target tells, the parent should contact the school's principal. If it is a teacher, or school staff, report the incident to the principal or if school principal, start the investigation process.
TELLING VS TATTLING
Plain and Simple: We adults need to obliterate the word TATTLING from our vocabulary!!! There is a stigma around the word tattling or ratting out a classmate. When students are supported by adults when they witness bullying they will come forward without fear or retaliation.
Adults should not discourage children from telling them about something they see no matter how small the "injustice" may seem to an adult. Thank children for telling you, and as an adult you can decide if action is needed. This is especially true in the home setting. The long and short of it is, if a child is being hurt physically, emotionally or psychologically, then an adult needs to intervene. If Susie is telling teacher that Joey is sharpening his pencil to a stub. Teacher thanks Susie for telling her, Teacher can intervene and ask Joey to stop as this is a waste of resources, or Teacher may decide to not intervene as it may just be an annoyance this is where Susie is told to why Teacher will not intervene Joey.
Thanking the child validates the child and creates a trust between the adult and child. In the future when a child is experiencing or observing bullying the child will come forward knowing that she/he will be believed and appropriate intervention will occur.