We are excited to welcome Maryln Appelbaum as our first guest-blogger. We introduced Appelbaum to you last fall. As you may recall, she is co-owner and co-founder of Appelbaum Training Institute (“ATI”) and the author of over 30 how-to books geared exclusively to educators and parents. Appelbaum, who has a doctorate in Psychology and Master’s degrees in both Psychology and Education, has been working with children since 1973 as a therapist, teacher, headmaster and consultant for families and schools. With last week’s release of the documentary, Bully (http://action.thebullyproject.com/), we thought it was a great time to call on Appelbaum for her thoughts on the very difficult subject of bullying. She kindly shared with us the following:
The incidents of bullying continue to grow, not only in the United States, but all over the world. The percentage of kids who have been victimized has increased by fifty percent, and that is only the cases we know about. Keep in mind that most kids do not report the bullying. The problem begins as early as preschool. Ten years ago, it was found that twenty percent of kindergartners had been exposed to bullying. That was ten years ago. You can bet that the numbers have grown and continue to grow. Our company, Appelbaum Training Institute, has offered an early childcare training on the topic of “mean kids.” Participants came because they needed solutions on how to handle “all about me” toddlers and preschoolers who hurt others. When we offer another special training class we have developed, Hallway Heroes, to counter bullying in elementary, middle, and high schools, we also get large audiences. The following are some important facts everyone should know about bullying:
1. If you are reading this, and live in suburbia, you may think your child is immune. If you live in a rural environment, you too may think your child is immune. That is not true. There is a very similar incidence rate of bullying regardless of whether students come from urban, suburban, or rural environments.
2. One of the saddest facts about bullying and cyber-bullying, is the high percentage of kids who are victims that say bullying caused them to have problems. Ninety percent of kids say that bullying affected their lives. They become nervous and anxious, and it is difficult to study. They may develop emotional and physical problems.
3. Bullying almost always occurs in places where there is little or no adult supervision. This can be in school in places like the playground, hallways, and cafeteria, or even the classroom before classes begin. The sad fact is that there is also no adult supervision of the internet and social media sites and cell phones. That is a major reason why the incidence of bullying has grown to such a huge extent.
4. Bullying behaviors are exasperated by the fact that when some adults see it, they do nothing. One study showed that teachers supervising kids bullying others in the lunchtime cafeteria turned a blind eye, mistaking the aggressive bullying behavior for play. This type of night blindness is compounded when adults see boys being aggressive to others and say, “Boys will be boys.” There is no reason for boys or girls to be mean to others. It is not a sign of manhood for a boy to harm other kids. It is instead a sign there is something fundamentally wrong with the child, something that needs to be fixed.
5. Bullying can be deadly. Adults need to take it seriously. One of the reasons kids don’t report it, is that they don’t believe that adults will really intervene. The story of Phoebe Prince in Massachusetts in the spring of 2010, is a classic example. Phoebe had been the victim of vicious bullying and cyber-bullying. Her mother had contacted school officials several times for help, but no one helped. Even the day she committed suicide, apparently school officials saw kids harassing her in the school library, and did nothing. After she died, there were more disparaging messages written on a Facebook page that had been created in her memory. How many kids have to die before adults take it seriously and do something about it?
Please take bullying seriously. If you have a gut feeling that your child may be involved in bullying, follow through on that gut feeling. If you suspect that your child may be a victim of bullying, follow through on that. The life you save, may be the life of your own child. If we can help you in any way, feel free to call 800-23-CHILD. Join me on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ATISEMINARS.
Let’s all work together to keep kids safe.