Bullying hurts. It's everywhere. Bullying can occur when one person wields power over another. Most of the focus of this article will be on bullying in Columbiana County schools.
How big of a problem is bullying in county schools? How are bullying problems handled? Are there no-bullying policies in the schools? How can parents help curb bullying? Can we really stop bullying?
According to the Columbiana County Education Services Center (CCESC), the Olweus (ol-vey-us) Bullying Prevention Program is integrated into the elementary classrooms at Beaver Local, Crestview, East Palestine, Leetonia, Lisbon, Salem and United Local.
OBPP is a comprehensive program designed to reduce and prevent bullying problems among school children and to improve the peer relations in the schools, and is conducted by the Institute on Family and Neighborhood Life at Clemson University.
It is law that all schools must report to their board and the state semi-annually to report the number of bullying incidents that occur. Some of the Owleus schools have surveyed their students and know what kids tell them about the incident rate of bullying, where it is happening. Schools that are pro-active reply with new staffing patterns to address problem areas that need more supervision or change situations so kids who are bullied are not left alone, advises Elizabeth "Betsy" Barringer, a consultant with the CCESC.
The Search Institute, she said, also provides information in some questions relating to bullying. But schools must report it in their discipline reports.
Rates vary by school and nationally the rate of reporting by students is 17-20 percent.
"Ours are there and higher," Barringer said. "And a note, once you start doing something about it, educating staff, etc., the numbers go even higher for a while, then they begin dropping as the culture changes. Kids know staff and school will do something about the problem. It slows, dramatically.
"United Local reported a 50 percent decrease, over three years, but it went up initially, like it would logically. People are paying more attention and responding more, hence more bullying is reported."
Somewhere along the line someone said that bullies are victims of bullying themselves.
"That is a myth," Barringer advises. "Most bullies have not necessarily been bullied in their lives. They don't have low self-esteem. There are two types of bullies."
The traditional bully is more likely to value violence, be impulsive, quick-tempered, have little empathy for others. This type of bully is aggressive with adults, active in rule breaking and is physically stronger than peers.
This type of bully is not depressed, without friends, but rather, enjoys the attention, control and notoriety they garner from others in the bullying circle who are paying attention to their behavior. They are not angry, the ones who are most likely to have trouble with the lay and are more likely to do drugs and alcohol later.
They gain satisfaction from inflicting harm suffering on others, rewarded by the attention of others.
The provocative victim (passive/aggressive bully) is the one who most likely was bullied, and is retaliating in kind, finally, in sheer frustration, she said.
Parents can help stop bullying by being aware of their child, mood and behavior changes. Talk with them about the issues. Keep computers in a common area where all can see what is on it, in the case of cyber bullying.
Ask questions such as has anyone ever bullied them? What is it like at their school? Where are the problems: bus, playground, lunchroom, gym? Let your child know you will support them if there is a problem.
You won't take their technology away from them, but you will let the school and police know if there are problems. Copy and save any emails that are problems.
Let the school know if there is a problem. The school doesn't always see, hear or know about every problem. Believe the school if they call and say your child is the problem, and doing it to others, and act on that, too.
For more information about bullying and the Olweus program, contact the CCEDS at 330-424-9591. You can also visit the website at www.olweus.org.
Family Recovery Center promotes the well being of individuals, families and communities with education, prevention and treatment programs related to substance abuse issues. FRC can be reached at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.