I’m A Parent
At SAVE, we believe that kids who have a good sense of self-respect and respect for others are less likely to be involved in violence and more likely to be peaceful. We also know that kids who have good critical thinking and communication skills are less likely to be intolerant and also less likely to become involved with violence. Below are some good ideas and information to help your students resist violence and promote peace and tolerance. To help empower your child to be leader of peace, make sure his/her school has an affiliated SAVE chapter. Visit Chapter Registration to start a chapter and for more information.
Five Things Role Models SHOULD Do In Front of the Students
This is advice from SAVE’s How We Hate, Why We Hurt: A Guide for Parents, Educators, and Other Every Day Role Models. Get your copy today.
- Think Out Loud. Let students hear how you evaluate arguments, challenge your own and others’ ideas, and formulate worthy conclusions about your world.
- Practice The Rule of Two. Always note two distinct traits about a person, never just one (Jane is smart and beautiful) to steer students away from stereotyping.
- Call People Names – Their Own Names. Learn and use the names of people you regularly interact with (clerks, postal carriers, etc.) to remind students of the value of every individual.
- Cultivate Your Curiosity. Explore new places and cultures. Reach out to meet new people. Do not be afraid to ask questions. Assumptions based on ignorance hurt; questions that seek to uncover truth always help.
- Replace “Them” With “Us.” When faced with an issue or situation that normally inspires you to say “Well, they should…” or “Well, those people always…” substitute we/us for them. ” What can we do to solve this?” “What have we done to contribute to this problem?” Not only is this empowering, but it also reminds us that we are united by our shared humanity. Despite our differences, we are all people.
Five Things Role Models SHOULD NOT Do In Front of the Students
- Stereotype a Student’s Peers. Resist the temptation to think in terms of “good kids” and “bad kids.” Try not to fall into the kind of clique-driven thinking students are surrounded by at school—avoid terms like “nerd” or “preppie.”
- Scapegoat a Student’s Behavior. Try not to “protect” a student by blaming their behavior on a peer, a school policy, or popular culture. Such tactics by adults not only teach a student how to scapegoat, but also damage a student’s sense of self-respect by making them feel powerless.
- Label Actions Instead of People. Hitting is bad; Mike is not. By providing students with commentary on actions (instead of actors) you will help them avoid fear of “the other” throughout their lives.
- Cling To Your Clique. Be sure that your network of friends is not confined to a clique. Get to know people with careers, cultures, and interests unique from your own. Bring together friends from diverse backgrounds to create a richly textured network of people.
- Stay Silent. No matter how disapproving you may be on the inside, your outward silence in the face of a hateful comment or joke tells a student that you approve.
Help! My Student Is Being Bullied
Angry. Helpless. Afraid. Guilty.
All of these words describe how parents feel when they realize that their student is being bullied. Bullying is a serious issue. Bullying can cause both physical and emotional damage to a student. Prolonged bullying also can set up a cycle of harassment. Sadly, if a bully is popular, other kids may join in with the teasing to gain the bully’s approval. In these cases, bullying a particular student can become a “cool” thing to do in a school or neighborhood.
While many resources will promise parents sure-fire ways to protect their kids from being bullied, let us assure you that, unfortunately, there are no absolute safe-guards. Because many different factors can encourage some students to harass others, each situation is unique. No one cure will solve.
Thus, our best advice is parents should carefully consider all of the factors that seem to be at play in their student’s particular situation. For example, is this a one-time occurrence or a long-term problem for your student? Is your student the victim of a single peer, a small group of peers, or seemingly most other students at his/her school? Is the bullying occurring at school or in other locations? Does your student have at least one good friend for positive peer interaction or is your student socially isolated (i.e. are bullying encounters your student’s only peer-to-peer interaction?)
By identifying all of the factors involved in your student’s situation, you will be better prepared both to seek out assistance and to support your student. If the bullying is occurring at school, alert your student’s teacher(s), guidance counselor/social worker, and the school principal. Provide each of those people with as much information as you have about the situation. Ask them for 1) any advice they have for you in how you might be able to help your student manage the situation; and 2) any actions the school might take to help your student and prevent future problems.
Please be careful to consider how some actions by the school might cause a “boomerang” effect. When possible, encourage the school to find solutions that will reduce the risk of future problems while also protecting your student from retribution. For example, a plan to work with the other student’s parents and teachers to help the student develop empathy may help dramatically and also will not require that your student be identified to the bully as the “tattletale.”
Diminish the Effects
In addition to working with school officials to try to prevent future bullying of your student, work with your student to help diminish the effects of the bullying. Bullying can damage a student’s self-esteem, willingness to trust peers, and ability to make friends with other students. Help curb these profoundly negative effects by trying some of the following options:
- Provide your student with a place to interact with peers completely separate from the place/social setting of the bullying. If your student is bullied at school, enroll him/her in a sport or class at a community center in a different town or neighborhood. Give your student a chance to interact with other students who are not aware of the bullying situation. Positive peer encounters in the new setting will not only boost your student’s self-esteem and social network, but will provide a welcome “fresh start” on friendships with peers.
- Involve your student in peer interactions based on his/her interests. If your student likes music, check out local community center student’s choirs. If your student enjoys games, find a Chapter or even a tournament circuit for his/her age group. Provide your student with a place where his/her interest is shared by others. Involvement with peers who share the same interests (even if they do not attend the same school) can provide a network of friends and can jump-Start self-esteem.
- Find an older friend/hero/role model for your student. A cousin, neighbor or family friend who is four to five years older than your student can be a fantastic resource to a student who is being bullied. Because the person is older, your student likely will listen to their counsel. Yet, because they aren’t much older (i.e. not as old as parents!) your student likely also will perceive them to “get it.” The combination of credibility and identification provided by a slightly older friend can offer your student support, advice, and hope for better days to come.
- Buy your student a journal and encourage them to write openly and honestly about how they are feeling. Bottling up the emotions caused by bullying can cause lasting damage to self-esteem. Because many victims of bullying are embarrassed by their situation (they feel they somehow “deserve” the treatment), they are quite unlikely to talk about their plight, or their feelings, with other friends, siblings, or parents. A journal can provide a safe outlet for their emotions.
- Provide your student with chances to excel. Whether in academics, music, sports, video games, or hot-dog eating competitions, help your student find something they enjoy doing and have the potential to do very well in with a little practice. Developing authentic self-confidence about a skill or talent can go a long way toward silencing the negative internal voice that says “I’m not valuable”—the voice bullying too often activates in a victim’s mind.