Bullying prevention presentation

Posted by Alicia smith on 1/17/2019 2:25:00 PM

Bullying prevention addressedAndrea Fallick makes a presentation

It was a funny visual watching adults walk around the library holding a playing card to their head. What they could not see was the value of the card, which assigned the individual their status in a hypothetical social hierarchy in a school.

The exercise demonstrated a common situation in the hallways and classrooms at schools throughout the country — there are individuals who have power over others, and its often not used in a positive manner.

Andrea Fallik, Director for School Based Programs at Student Assistance Services, refers to those who reign at the top of the social sphere as Kings and Queens. These individuals have the power to hurt or use their status to protect others. They exist in every organization,  and a part of life is navigating through their behavior in order to create a positive, supportive environment for all.

During a PTSA workshop held at Alexander Hamilton High School on January 15 for parents, “Bullying Prevention: What Parents Need to Know,” Ms. Fallick discussed the issue of bullying, addressing the who, how, why and what parents can do.

“The whole idea of bullying prevention, I think of it as a storm,” Ms. Fallick said. “You hear ahead of time it’s coming, you get information and you prepare.”

There are four factors that indicate bullying is taking place, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Ms. Fallick said. They are: unwanted aggressive behavior with the intent to harm, embarrass or shame, behavior that is repeated, an imbalance of power and finally, the target cannot defend his or herself.

The bullying can be verbal, physical or take place online on social media.

“It means we must take all forms of mistreatment seriously,” said Ms. Fallick, who is a licensed clinical social worker.

Parents have a role in addressing the issue by being the person a student can turn to when they feel overwhelmed or are being harassed.

“Kids just need someone,” Ms. Fallick said.

In order to ensure their son and daughter will ask a parent for help, Ms. Fallick said it starts with a conversation, a simple discussion about their day. Parents will not be surprised if their child is not interested in having any kind of dialogue, beyond, “yes,” “no,” or “nothing.” Ms. Fallick said the best way to get teens to talk is to share what is going on in their lives. If you want to know how your child’s day went, talk to them about how your day went and share both the positive and negative aspects.

On a positive note, research has shown children are willing to speak up, Ms. Fallick said.

“The communication piece is so important,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Marc Baiocco said.

Having said that, Ms. Fallick shared a list of reasons why children do not come forward and share when they are being bullied. Among the reasons listed are a child does not recognize the behavior as bullying, they don’t want to appear weak, they fear retaliation, they don’t know how to talk about what is happening, or they are embarrassed and may be concerned about how their family will react.

“In general, we want to be compassionate and understanding,” Ms. Fallick said.

There are strategies that a child who is being bullied can use. They include telling the person to stop, telling a friend, walking away, telling themselves it is not their fault or telling an adult. Others will pretend they are not bothered by it, do nothing, make a joke about it or plan to get back at the person who bullied them.

If a parent still cannot get through to their child and is not being told information that indicates there is a problem, and parents have the sense something is going on, they should speak to the school to address any issue to find out how their child is doing — do they eat lunch with a friend, or are they playing with friends at recess?

Bullies tend to fall into two categories, those who are troubled and lash out at others and those who are looking to have power over others.

Research has shown that when the individual being bullied does not have their issue addressed, the emotional results resemble that of someone who experienced a trauma, Ms. Fallick said. The effects of being bullied can lead to low self-esteem, higher rates of depression and anxiety and absences from school.

Those who are being bullied need assistance and understanding too.

“Without intervention they can also experience depression,” Ms. Fallick said. “I really think we need to embrace these kids, use it as an opportunity to put them on another pathway.”

When discussing bullying the issue of bystanders is often brought into the conversation. A bystander is someone who intervenes when they notice someone being bullied.

“They are involved,” Ms. Fallick said. “More kids are bystanders, about 85 percent. They are effective.”

Ultimately, Ms. Fallick said, families need to keep the lines of communication open and support their child.

It is important to let your child know you understand them, allow them the opportunity to explain what is happening, tell them that what is happening to them is not right, ask them how they feel about what is going on and try to understand what effect the bullying is having on your child.