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Bullying Among Female Elementary Students- Part 2
What Really Goes on When Girls Bully or are Bullied
Question 8: How do you feel when you are being bullied?
Answers: The percentage of the responses is as follows:
a. hurt - 60%
b .none - 28%
c. angry -10%
d. afraid - 2%
It is not surprising that majority or 60% get hurt. What is disturbing is the number of girls who might grow up to be insecure and unsure of themselves. Bullying can reinforce the negative perception of the victims. Being hurt often can lead to depression. And being depressed always can lead to a more serious consequence.
Surprisingly, there are girls who feel nothing when they are bullied. This means that they don’t regard bullies as someone who can affect their life and therefore their confidence in themselves. While such kind of reaction is good, it is still not acceptable to have anybody bullying them.
For those who feel anger toward the bully, it may build up inside them. And when they can’t contain their rage, they may hit back or turn the tables on their bullies. If they eventually fight back and if they are stronger than the bully, they might successfully stop the bullying. But if they are weaker, retaliating or getting even can cause them more harm. Eventually, they will feel sorry for themselves and end up being more hurt and depressed.
Those who are fearful of their tormentors need the most help. It may result to the victims eventually dropping out of school or transferring to other schools since they are not capable of protecting themselves. They are the most vulnerable and we teachers should be on the look-out for possible extreme consequence. Usually, this group is the one who are prone to depression. And persistently depressed girls are the ones who commit suicide. So far, in my 6 years of teaching in our school, I have not heard or seen any suicide incidence because of bullying. Even in our whole district with 26 schools, we teachers have not encountered a student who took her life because of bullying. If something like this occurs, we will be greatly affected and saddened. We would feel that since these girls are in our care, spending more time with them than with our own families, we have failed them.
Tips on Bully-Proofing Your Child
These simple tips are culled from my experiences as a teacher. I have been noticing that there is a particular group of children who possess certain characteristics that make them friends, not targets, of bullies. Actually, as I was writing this piece, I was picturing them in my mind so I can give a more detailed appreciation of their personalities.
1. Teach your child to be friendly. Of course, it is easy to tell them to make friends with other students in school. But there goes a deeper meaning of being friendly. Let them realize that they should never be selective of who their friends should be. In other words, inculcate in them that they should not be choosy on who to talk with. Bully-proof students never look condescendingly to anybody of their classmates. In fact, they make them feel like they are one of their best classmates. However, your child should not overdo it as it may be perceived as a weakness on her part.
2. Encourage your daughter to study hard, always take part in class discussion, volunteer in class undertakings and be cooperative in any group work. Doing these things never fail to impress their classmates, bullies included. A child need not be intelligent. She only needs to show to their classmates that she takes learning seriously.
3. Even if you think your daughter has no talent in singing or dancing, let her participate in school programs or activities. The teacher would take care of training her. Teachers are also excellent in bringing out whatever talent your daughter possesses.
4. Never let her come to school looking disheveled or smelling like a worn socks. Tell her to keep herself neat throughout the day. Smelly children are always a ready target of bullies.
5. Have time to accompany her in going to school, even once a week or month. By doing this, you are unconsciously sending out a message to the bullies that you are always there for your daughter.
6. Remember the adage “Do to others what you want them do to you”? Remind your daughter to show respect to her classmates. Simply saying, “hello”, “excuse me”, “I’m sorry” and the likes go a long way in earning the admiration and respect of her classmates.
Question 9: Do you tell your parents that you are being bullied?
Answer: 67% of the girls say that they tell their parents and 33% say that they keep it to themselves.
Their answer to this question gives me a glimpse of their relationship with their parents. If they are close and have an open line of communication with them, they will naturally inform their parents. This only shows that they have enough support system. I am happy for these girls who can unload their burden to their parents because they will have a better chance of getting over and stopping the bullies.
But for the 1/3 of the girls who don’t tell their parents, this is alarming for us. Teachers may help and do something about preventing the bullies from tormenting their victims but we are not 100% sure that after we reprimand the bullies, they would really stop. A parent-teacher cooperation should be established so that bullies can successfully be prevented from inflicting physical or emotional damage to their victims.
The result also shows that there are girls who refuse to tell their parents about what is happening to them in school. It could be that some parents have no time to listen to their daughters because they are busy with their work or business. Or that there may be an on- going discord within the family that causes the daughter not to inform her parents. Or simply they are too afraid of the bullies and worry about what they will do to them if they tell their parents. There are lots of reasons that may hold them back from conferring to their parents but the immediate problem will not be solved if they keep on being mum.
Question 10: What do your parents do if they found out that you are being
Answers: Here are the responses of the girls and their percentage:
1. confront the bully - 36%
2. nothing -32%
3. consult the teacher -10%
4.will take action if the bullying continues - 8%
5. don’t mind the bully - 7%
6. have a word with the bully’s parents - 2%
Parents confronting the bullies having the highest percentage jive with my observation. At any time of the day, a parent goes into my classroom, seething and demanding to talk to one of my students who happen to be bullying his/her daughter. There are some who calmly talk to the bully. But majority of these parents come shouting and confronting the bully angrily. If the bully really stops tormenting the victim because of this, we will find out later in my succeeding hubs.
We teachers do appreciate it if parents take the time to act as this helps us to contain bullying in our class. We admit that we can’t solve it alone. We are saddled with so much work and are distracted by other things that require our attention. So much so that we can’t closely watch the children all the time. After all, bullying occurs mostly after class hours. I have 60 students in my class. I write lesson plans for more than 5 subjects, prepare instructional materials, attend seminars/training/workshops, train pupils for contests, prepare reports, check papers, record class performance and many other things associated with teaching so a one-on-one and close monitoring of bullies and their victims cannot be given a 100% full attention. The same situation confronts my co-teachers. With the sheer number of bullies and bullying targets, we regret that we can only do so much as our time will allow, although we really do our best to contain bullying of any form. So I am quite saddened that 32% of the parents do nothing when their daughters tell them that they are being bullied. I try to understand them because probably they are too busy with their work. Remember that majority of my students come from poverty-stricken families so the parents have to work hard just to put food on their tables.
This scenario may also be the reason why some 2% of the parents tell their daughters not to mind the bully. One even said to the daughter that God will take care of the situation.
What really bothers me is the 5% of the parents who get angry with or castigate their daughters even if they are the victims. They probably think that it is their daughters’ fault that they are being bullied! For the life of me, I don’t and I won’t accept this kind of distorted reason.
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A Plea to the Parents
Please help us teachers solve the problem of bullying. If your daughter is a victim, you can visit us, talk to us and we will find ways together to stop them from treating your daughter aggressively. If the parents are constantly seen by bullies and if they perceive that these parents will do anything to protect their daughters, then they will surely stop. Even if you are busy with your work, have time. There is nothing better a weapon as the constant and close monitoring of both the parents and the teachers.
We are bothered and we are worried to see some of our students being bullied. It makes us feel that our attempt to form the right values of our students is not enough. If only we can have our bodies be divided into how many pupils we have in our class, we can surely monitor each child. They are with us most of the time so we develop a certain protective bond to them. But owing to the enormity of tasks ahead of us, we can’t promise to guard them with our whole, undivided attention. Above all, we need support when it comes to reforming the attitudes of the bullies as their aggressive behavior usually takes root from what they see in their environment while they were growing up, either in the home or in the community, until the time they have to attend a school. By this time, their ability to interact with other people and how they react to individual differences and characters have already been defined. We as teachers can only modify them.