Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Bullying / Harassment Part II

Effects of Bullying
Bullying can affect everyone including those who are bullied, those who bully, and those who witness bullying. Bullying is linked to many negative consequences including substance abuse, serious mental health issues, and even suicide. It is important as a parent, teacher or school administrator to talk to kids to determine whether bullying or something else is a concern.  
Kids Who are Bullied
Children who are bullied can experience negative physical, school, and mental health issues. Children who are bullied are more likely to experience:
-          Depression and anxiety increase in feelings of unhappiness, sadness, and feelings of isolation.
-          Changes in sleep and eating patterns
-          Loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy
-          Health complaints
-          Fear of going to school
-          Decreased academic achievement –GPA and standardized test scores—and school participation. They are more likely to miss, skip, or drop out of school
A very small number of bullied children might retaliate through extremely violent measures. In 12 of 15 school shooting cases in the 1990’s, the school shooters had a history of being bullied according to http://www.stopbullying.gov.
Kids Who Bully Others
Children who bully others can also engage in violent and other risky behaviors into adulthood. Kids who bully are more likely to:
-          Get into fights, vandalize property, and drop out of school
-          Be abusive toward their romantic partners, spouses, or even their own children as adults
-          Engage in early sexual activity
-          Abuse alcohol and other drugs in adolescence and as adults
-          Have criminal convictions and traffic citations as adults
Children who witness bullying are more likely to:
-          Have increased use of tobacco, alcohol, and/or other drugs
-          Have increased mental health problems, including depression and anxiety
-          Miss or skip school
Please see http://www.stopbullying.gov for more information

Monday, November 12, 2012

Bullying / Harassment

Bullying / Harassment
It is a parent’s worst nightmare when a child comes home from school injured either from another student or even from school staff. When you send your child off to school, you expect to be sending them to a safe learning environment, however this is not always the case. Sometimes parents can feel helpless because of their lack of control and inability to protect their child in the school environment. Bullying should be taken seriously and can  have serious consequences on a child.
While the pain of a physical attack often fades quickly, being a social outcast can last for months or years, and the social and emotional impact can persist into adulthood (Estell & Chamberlin, 2003).
Special Education and Bullying
Children in special education or who have a 504 plan are especially vulnerable to bullying and abuse – but fortunately, they have more protections legally than regular education children do in many instances. In one study, 90% of the mothers of children with Asperger’s syndrome reported that their child had been a target of some form of bullying within the previous year (Little, 2002). Researchers believe this value may be a conservative estimate because targets can be reluctant to report bullying even to their parents (Hay et al. 2004, Attwood, 2004).

80% of adolescents and 90% of 4th through 8th graders reported being bullied at school (Maine Project Against Bullying, 1998-2000). Students reported that 71% of the teachers or other adults in the classroom ignored bullying incidents (Maine Project Against Bullying, 1998-2000). There is evidence showing peer group support for aggressive behaviors as early as the first grade (Estell, et al., 2002).
Most states, including Indiana, do not yet collect information on bullying incidents, although the accumulation and dissemination of such data would seem to be useful in examining bullying in schools and determining why it persists (Estell & Chamberlin, 2003). As of 2003, twenty-two states have adopted policies to deal with bullying; Indiana is not one of the states (Estell & Chamberlin, 2003). In 2005 Indiana adopted a token attempt to address bullying by amending the discipline rules governing school corporations to (1) prohibit bullying, (2) include provisions concerning education, parental involvement, reporting, investigation, and intervention apply to students (1) on school grounds, (2) at school activity, function, or event, (3) traveling to or from school or school activity, function, or event, or (4) using property or equipment provided by the school. However, noncompliance with this section by the school may not be used as evidence against the school (IC 20-33-8-13.5).

If you suspect sexual or any other type of abuse of your child by other students or school staff, you should contact police and Child Protective Services immediately, as well as attorney. Whether you and your child are entitled to monetary damages or other remedies for what has transpired is a time-sensitive, fact-sensitive inquiry.