A disturbing school bus brawl shows just how far bullying brutality can go. Is your kid safe?
It's every parent's worst nightmare -- caught on tape. An Illinois boy was beaten on a school bus by two students as the other passengers cheered and laughed. The victim -- according to an eye witness -- has been picked on at the school for some time. What started this outburst of violence? The victim allegedly pushed one of the boys' book bags on the floor.
The big question on everybody's mind is just what the bus driver was doing as a lone student was pummeled in the back of the bus. In response, school superintendent Dr. Greg Moats said "Any adult who sees any activity on or off campus, we would hope that they would put a stop to it." But they didn't.
Sadly, bullying comes in all shapes and forms. Momlogic asked Ross Ellis, founder and chief executive officer of Love Our Children USA, the national nonprofit leader on child violence prevention, for tips on protecting our children.
There had been speculation that the beating was racially motivated -- the police disagree. "It's not necessarily race-related," said Belleville Police Capt. Don Sax. "It's just bullying and that's where it is."
Kindness starts at home:
"The reality is, any kid can become a bully or be victimized themselves, so it's crucial to take preventative measures now," says Ellis. "Bullying is a learned behavior. So when kids see you criticize others -- 'Can you believe what Jill was wearing?' -- they mimic your actions out in the world. What's more, insecurity usually triggers a bully's behavior. So raising confident and empathetic children will have a twofold effect: Not only will your kids have positive self-esteem, but they'll be more likely to stand up for other kids who are being harassed."
Develop a buddy system:
"It's a fact that bullies rarely strike groups -- they just don't have the guts," says Ellis. "If your child is being harassed, make sure he or she walks around school with a friend, or is within earshot of a teacher." If someone does start bullying your kid, have them look the bully in the eye and say, "I don't like your teasing. Stop it right now." Then they should walk away and report the incident. If the bully pushes, teach your kid not to hit back. "Bullies want a reaction, so if the victim reciprocates, the problem will worsen," says Ross.
Take action: "As tempting as it is to sit down with the troublemaker's parents, don't," says Ellis. "Most parents are defensive toward criticism of their child or are in denial there's even a problem." A better idea: Go to the school directly, and record every incident of harassment. Then ask your school to develop an anti-bullying program and form a watchdog group with other parents. Ellis concludes, "The sad truth is most prevention lies with parents, because most schools just don't take bullying seriously enough."
If your child is being bullied, take action. Check out The Bullying Prevention School of Rights.