Bully Doesn’t Let Up

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(The Vancouver Sun, December 2000)

Q: There is a bully at my children’s school. Many parents have complained, but this girl is very manipulative. She bullies others, and then when her own girlfriends and teachers come down on her she promises to change. Everyone backs off in good faith, but then she starts again.

Saleema and Teresa: Immediately, we are curious as to what the consequences have been for this bully so far. It’s mandatory for each school to have a policy in writing addressing how they handle the issue of bullying, and you have a right as parents to ensure that it is followed. Every child deserves to go to school without fear. As the old saying goes, there is power in numbers, so a few parents meeting with teachers and administrators may promote action. It is equally important to talk to the children about the power of bystanders in stopping bullying. Though her own friends have come down on the bully, watching her abuse someone else is an unintentional form of bullying. It acts as a silent endorsement of the bullying behavior. Instead, get the kids to say "I don’t like how you are treating her/him" and then report it (anonymously, if needed). This takes away her audience and gets the victim help. With reports that over 60% of elementary school bullies who continue their aggressive behavior have a criminal record by age 24, it is in no one’s best interest to be soft on her. There may also be issues to consider regarding where the bully has learned her abusive behavior patterns.