This is the second in a series of posts related to bullying. The series begins here...
There are a lot of ways to head off and respond to bullying. I will highlight some Defensive tactics here and Dig into these in more Detail at a later Date:
Self-Advocacy - This is the foundational attitude you ideally want your child to have. It says, "I am valuable and worthy of respect. There is no reason anyone should treat me badly." This attitude may prevent bullying simply because bullies may pick out targets who seem vulnerable. This can lead to a negative cycle. If your child is still targeted, self-advocacy will at least impel your child to seek help from others. Self-advocacy skills, like many social skills may not come naturally to children with special needs. There are resources to learn these skills, however. I'll be sharing some what I've run across in the following posts.
Peer-Advocacy - The next best defense is a group of peers that will not stand by and allow bullying to occur. Bullying persists in part because bystanders allow it to continue. There are several theories about why that happens which I'll try to follow up on in future posts. Helping your child establish a circle of friends who will stick up for them is vitally important. We'll talk about how to make that happen, too.
Supervision - This may be one of the weakest links in our culture. There simply aren't enough adult eyes per child. I have seen in our own school that even when there are several adults on the playground (at drop-off and pick-up in particular) they are distracted and not observing what the children are doing. You can't catch everything, but the more you can be present and engaged the more you will know what your child is facing and how they are reacting to it. You'll see for yourself what skills they need to learn. I have to be clear here that I'm not talking about helicopter parenting here. I think it is important to provide "just-right" support for your child. For my daughter I can now watch her with peers from a distance - reading her body language and eavesdropping, if possible, to know when I need to step in and give her some support. This is how I know that some children already regard her as "odd" and will use any opening they find to verbally outwit her and highlight her differences.
Policy - By itself, policy is ineffective, but it is still essential. Make sure you know your school's rules and what procedures they follow if bullying occurs. What definitions do they use? How are the rules enforced? What is the communication chain? What documentation do you need?
These concepts are just an outline of the various defensive strategies you need to consider if you're concerned about bullying or know that it is occurring.
Which method has been most essential for you and/or your child?
This post is linked to Jenny Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday blogfest. You can see the other creative responses to the letter D here.