Bullies Beware — Naperville Schools Take a Stand Against Bullying

April 2013 View more

N2013_04_01_012COMMUHarassment and bullying are nothing new. However, what is new is that bullies are able to strike more easily and more often in the era of digital and social media. Many times the attacks are not blatant insults, but exclusion or damaging rumors that can cause the greatest harm. According to a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 20 percent of high school students nationwide experienced some form of bullying.

Types of bullying

Bullying generally falls into three categories: Verbal bullying is saying or writing mean things about someone, such as name-calling; Social bullying involves hurting someone’s reputation or relationships, in person or through cyber bullying, and often involves deliberately leaving someone out of an activity; Physical bullying is the actual hurting of a person’s body or possessions.

“If a child shares that they are being bullied, or if a parent suspects there might be an issue at school, they should contact the school and talk with the teacher, building administrator, school social worker or counseling staff,” said Rachel Weiss, supervisor of social work services, Naperville Community Unit School District 203. “Many children and parents are hesitant to share the information, but frankly, there is no way for a school to address an issue if they are not made aware of it,” said Weiss.

A Helping Hand

The Naperville School Districts have a number of programs to help combat bullying.  Last year, District 203 launched Tip203, an online reporting form, which allows high school students, parents, or anyone with a legitimate concern related to school safety, to communicate those concerns anonymously on the District’s website. The District also has a variety of school-wide programs that teach and reinforce positive character traits.

“Social workers and counselors present to classrooms and small groups using a wide variety of materials and curriculum, depending on the developmental level of the students. When there are specific students struggling with peer relationships, they may meet in a small group setting to work on problem solving skills, cooperation and conflict resolution,” said Weiss.

District 204 also initiated an online bully reporting system, in addition to a variety of educational programs.

“There are a variety of staff available that have been trained to respond to the needs of victims of bullying. These include school counselors, school social workers, and school psychologists. In addition to teachers and administrators who have been trained to respond immediately to student reports of bullying,” said Josh Neuder, assistant director, student services for Indian Prairie School District 204.

According to Neuder, educational programs take the form of direct teaching, as well as developing a culture of awareness of what constitutes bullying. At the middle and high school levels, student assemblies are held to increase awareness among students.

Overall, school officials say parents need to be aware of significant changes in their child’s behavior and students need to be able to express their concerns and know that help is available.

Bullying myths

  • Myth: Bullies have no friends
  • Fact: Bullies are often very popular among their classmates. Many classmates admire their toughness and may even try to imitate them.
  • Myth: Bullies have low self-esteem  
  • Fact: Bullies often have inflated self-views, and that high self-esteem can sometimes encourage bullies to rationalize their antisocial actions.
  • Myth: Bullying involves only perpetrators and victims
  • Fact: Bullying incidents involve more than just the bully and victim. There are bystanders, those who help the bully, and those who defend the victim.

 Sidebar courtesy of education.com