4 Reasons Bullying Is Downplayed by Educators

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Most parents know that the first step in addressing bullying is to report it to the school. Unfortunately, though, they do not always get the response they are looking for. There are still teachers and administrators out there who just do not take complaints about bullying seriously. They may either ignore the issue altogether or they downplay the severity and frequency of the issue.

Meanwhile, other educators claim they will address the issue, but then not only fail to investigate the bullying but also do not discipline the school bullies. And if they do dole out consequences, they sometimes do not follow through or they end up bending the rules slightly. This type of experience can be very frustrating for parents. When their child is being victimized, they just want the bad behavior to come to an end. And they need the help of educators to address it.

4 Reasons Bullying Is Downplayed

While there are numerous reasons why a teacher or administrator might downplay or ignore a bullying complaint, here are the top reasons why they just do not seem to have time to adequately address the issue.

The Teacher's Plate Is Full

Everyone knows that teachers today are extremely busy. The expectations placed on them by administrators can seem overwhelming at times. Consequently, many teachers are struggling just to meet the rigorous demands of their day-to-day obligations and responsibilities.

So, when bullying incidents occur, many teachers feel like they just do not have the time or the energy to deal with it. While this response is no excuse for ignoring bullying, and it sends the wrong message to the students, it is sometimes easier for teachers to turn a blind eye to bullying than it is to tackle the issue.

The Educators Are Focused on Their Classroom

Most of the time, bullying happens outside of the classroom setting. In fact, bullying typically takes place in a variety of different hot spots throughout the school including the lunchroom, the hallways, the locker room, on the bus and even online. As a result, it is not uncommon for teachers to be unaware of bullying within their building, especially if they focus primarily on the classroom setting and do not interact with students much outside of that.

What's more, bullies know exactly where the teachers and other adults are before they target someone. For this reason, it is often unlikely that adults will witness bullying firsthand. Only those teachers who make a concerted effort to connect with students will know what is happening outside of the classroom walls.

The Teacher Lacks Needed Resources

Some teachers really want to address the bullying that exists within the school, but do not have the administrative support to accomplish much. For instance, they may send students to the office when they suspect bullying only to have them sent back to class with no real consequences for their bad behavior.

What's more, many schools still lack solid bullying prevention programs and are behind in implementing programs that not only change school climate but also deter bullying. It is very hard for one teacher to effectively address bullying at the school when not everyone is on board with what needs to be done. For bullying prevention to be successful, there needs to be a team approach to addressing the issue.

The Teacher Has Misconceptions About Bullying

Despite the strides being made in bullying prevention efforts, there are some teachers that still look at bullying as a rite of passage. They buy into the idea that "kids will be kids" or believe that experiencing bullying helps to toughen kids up. Worse yet, they view bullying as a conflict rather than an issue of power and control where one person, or a group of people, controls and manipulates the victim.

As a result, these educators try to treat bullying issues the way they would treat conflict resolution. But, unfortunately, those efforts almost always fail. Bullies are not willing to compromise and they often intimidate the victim during any type of mediation efforts. As a result, approaching bullying issues like you would a conflict, is going to fail miserably almost every time.

What You Can Do

While it can be extremely frustrating when your concerns about bullying are ignored or downplayed, it is very important that you persist in your efforts to get the issue addressed. Make sure you are documenting everything that your child experiences as well as the dates and times the incidents occurred. Also, keep a record of who you talked to about the bullying and how they plan to address the issue.

Administrators are more likely to take you seriously when you can name specific dates and times that the bullying occurred. They also are more likely to listen when you can point out what others have promised, and failed, to do. Here are some additional suggestions on how to get the bullying addressed.

Keep Talking Until Someone Listens

If the first person you talk to about the bullying downplays or ignores your complaint, follow the chain of command and contact someone new. Keep climbing the ladder until someone takes your complaints seriously. Not only will this ensure the bullying is addressed, but it also helps your child too.

Many times, kids who are being bullied do not think their situation will improve. But when their parents show strength and are determined to get the situation resolved, this can be extremely reassuring. In fact, your determination to make sure the bullying is adequately addressed is among the most important things you can do for your child. This willingness to keep talking to school officials communicates to your kids that their concerns are valid, their safety is important to you, and that they are worthy of your time and effort.

Continue to Follow Up

Once you feel that your concerns have been heard and that the school is addressing the bullying issue adequately, set a time to follow up on the progress. In other words, check in to make sure the school actually did what they said they would do. It's also important to communicate with your child on a regular basis to ensure that the bullying is in fact decreasing and that he feels safer at school.

If your child continues to be harassed and abused, you schedule another meeting with the administrator addressing the issue. It is no secret that educators have a lot of issues to deal with, and if the bullying your child is experiencing is not kept at the forefront, it can be forgotten. The school should be made aware of each and every bullying incident so that they can implement the appropriate disciplinary procedures.

Be Patient With Your Child

Remember that healing from bullying takes times. By the time your child has told you about the bullying he is dealing with, he has most likely been coping with a problem for quite some time. Remember, kids who are being bullied are reluctant to report their experiences.

So it is highly likely that the bullying has already taken its toll on your child. Kickstart the healing process by reminding your child that it took a lot of courage to talk about his experiences and that you are proud of him. You also should take steps to build his self-esteem and brainstorm ways in which he can stand up to bullying and defend himself when he needs to.

The goal is not that you would fix the situation for them; but that you would instead empower them to take part in their recovery.

Also, stress that bullying is not their fault. He did not ask for it and there is nothing wrong with him. However, he can take steps to become a less likely target. Talk with him about areas where he might like to improve, such as developing assertiveness skills and honing his social skills. The key is that your child takes ownership of his healing and casts aside any type of victim-thinking.

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