No child should be sad at school. We just ended an exciting month for our children all over the country. October was designated as National Bullying Awareness Month and I took to the road to listen to children and to talk to them about bullying.
All children I encountered had many and varied views on what bullying is — and what it is not. During October, I conducted one parent presentation on this exact topic as there seems to be a lot of misunderstanding about bullying. One thing is for certain — what bothers one child might have little or no effect on another.
The biggest thing children spoke about was being left out. They described being left out of games at recess and being the last one picked by their peers when setting up groups to do school projects. In addition, they felt sad when they approached a group of children on the playground to speak with them, only to be told they were having a private conversation and they should leave. Of course, if the conversation was so private, it is not likely they would be having it in school.
Name calling, mostly coming in the form of making fun of someone’s name, was hurtful. It seemed that these “nicknames” given by other students stayed with them for a long time.
Secrets and lies were high up on their lists. They were not sure how they could stop rumors. As adults, we teach them that their reputation is important, yet some reputations were being tarnished or ruined through these messages being passed around.
The older children, as young as fourth grade, talked a lot about cyber bullying. Instant messaging, texting, emailing and the such was done maliciously on many occasions. Many children spoke about coming to school on a Monday only to find out these messages were being sent about them behind their backs over the weekend.
Cyber bullying happens constantly outside of the school setting, as most schools do not allow cell phones to be carried during the day, and computer work is strictly monitored.