How to Respond to Bullying
My 7th grader says he doesn’t want to go back to school. It comes out now that a group of kids teased him unmercifully last year about his hair. How can I help him handle this? – No More Bullies
First, you need to find out how serious the situation really is. Could it just be anxiety about returning to school? Or is it in any way a threatening situation?
As you know, bullying is a big problem, with close to three quarter’s of all children having been bullied. Your son needs to learn how to respond to verbal bullying. Should the bullying become physical or escalate to threats of violence, school personnel must be brought into the situation at once.
There are books that will give you and your son ideas about how to deflect bullying. A good choice is Bullies Are a Pain in the Brain. Look for a video by the same title on YouTube where you’ll find other videos that have solid approaches to handling bullying.
Advise your son that this is a new school year, and he may no longer be a target of the bullies. Also, help him develop strategies to use if he should be bullied again. These could include avoiding the bullies, making everyone laugh and staying with friends. — Margaret Eberts & Peggy Gisler
Our middle school would like to have more men present on campus during the day. Are there any programs geared to involving fathers?
Yes. For the past 11 years, Memphis City Schools, through their Division of Parent and Community Engagement (PACE), have offered Watch D.O.G.S. (Dads of Great Students). This program encourages men to get involved with their child’s school. Dads can be a positive role model on campus while also offering extra eyes and ears for school officials. “Dads aren’t typically that involved with education,” notes PACE coordinator Trevor Thompson, “but this puts the emphasis on their involvement.”
Thompson says when dads are engaged, discipline and attendance issues can decline. Currently, 79 elementary and middle schools, as well as several high schools, have Watch D.O.G.S. units.
What types of activities do Watch D.O.G.S. participate in? They help at the beginning and end of the day with drop-offs and departures. They might read to students, patrol the campus, or lend a hand in the lunchroom. Thompson says the role these men play is particularly important, since many MCS children come from single-parent homes and often have few if any male role models in their lives.
“It’s important for boys to see how a man carries himself,” says Thompson. He also sees the benefit in having dads see for themselves what goes on inside today’s classroom.
While the Shelby County schools don’t have the Watch D.O.G.S. program, SCS spokesman Shawn Pachucki says many schools do have strong PTOs and parents can put together such programs by working with their principal.
If your school would like to start a Watch D.O.G.S. chapter at your school, contact Trevor Thompson at PACE, 416-7264. — Jane Schneider
Send your questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or go to dearteacher.com.