Part 2 in a 3-Part Series
As teachers and administrators across the country are welcoming students to a new school year, we want to help make sure your child starts 2017-2018 off right. Follow these simple safety steps, adapted from the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC), which are important whether your student is just beginning his educational journey or is close to earning a degree. Not to brag, but our son, J.R., recently graduated from puppy kindergarten. School safety is of paramount importance since children spend more hours at school than anywhere besides their own homes. Facing myriad obstacles, such as bullying and peer pressure, and natural or manmade disasters, students now more than ever need to proactively take steps to #BeSafe.
Our first entry focused on how to keep your child safe on the way to and from school. If I do say so myself, it was a good one! This week, we will cover how to be safe while at school, relative to bullying. To read part one, click here. Our final post will cover school safety before, during and after natural and manmade disasters.
Although bullying was once considered standard procedure, parents, educators, and community leaders today recognize it as a devastating form of abuse that can have long-term repercussions – robbing students of self-esteem, isolating them from peers, and leading to health problems, curtailed education, and even suicide.
According to StopBullying.gov, the core elements of the definition include: “unwanted aggressive behavior; observed or perceived power imbalance; and repetition of behaviors or high likelihood of repetition.”
Bullying is now seen as gateway behavior, teaching perpetrators that threats and aggression are acceptable, even in adulthood. I’ve never heard of the term “gateway behavior.” But it makes sense. ABC News reports that one in every five middle and high school students has complained of being bullied at school. And reports of sexual assault on college campuses (which fit under the broader category of bullying) have more than tripled over the past decade. Most bullying takes place in school, outside on school grounds or on the school bus. Cyberbullying, which is a relatively new phenomenon, occurs via smartphones, social media and other computer applications.
Since bullying can threaten students’ physical and emotional safety at school and negatively impact their ability to learn, the best way to address bullying is to be proactive. Talking to your children about bullying will help them know how to respond if they are victims and will also keep them from becoming bullies.
- Pay attention. Ask parents of your child’s friends and peers, teachers, guidance counselors, and the school principal if they see signs in your child of bullying or evidence that he is being bullied.
- Communicate. Keep the lines of communication open. Talk to your kids about relationships and pressures to fit in. Discuss what bully behavior looks like. Ask your child to pay attention not only to how she is treated but also to identify bullying of other children.
- Stop it in its tracks. Don’t wait for bully-behavior to escalate before addressing it. If you suspect your child is a victim or perpetrator, act immediately. Let your child know that bullying is unacceptable and that serious consequences will be faced if the behavior is not checked at home, school, and in the community.
- Teach respect. Regularly engage in dialogue with your child about maintaining a sense of empathy for people who are different. We coach J.R. about respecting dogs even if they don’t have spots. Consider getting involved in a community group where your child can interact with kids who are different. Make sure you remain a good example in your dealings with others.
- Reward good behavior. Students sometimes bully to get attention. So, positive reinforcement can be more powerful than negative discipline. Catch your kids behaving well and when they handle situations in ways that are constructive or positive, take notice and shower them with praise. We give J.R. bacon as a reward.
Check back, as the final post in our three-part back-to-school safety series will focus on natural and manmade disasters.
About the Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Training System
Safety is important for everyone all year round, not just while at school. A convenient and affordable way to make sure high-rise occupants are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Training System, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.