By Ben Lane, TSB Staff
Nearly three dozen members of the McKinney school community gathered this week to learn about the dangers of bullying. The crowd consisted of parents, teachers, prospective teachers and MISD staff.
Bullying Prevention Expert Donna Clark Love gave a wide-ranging presentation Monday evening at Minshew Elementary School, and it touched on identifying bullying behaviors, empowering the “bystanders,” and the dangers of sexual predators on the Internet.
According to Love, 70% of elementary school children are bullied in some form or fashion. Love said the most likely victims of bullying are “loners, new kids and kids without a strong support system.”
Love said one of the key factors to preventing bullying is parental involvement. Love said that in most cases, elementary school children will tell some member of the school staff if they are the victim of a buly, while middle school children will tell their friends. But high schoolers won’t tell anyone. Love said that is why it’s so important for parents to be involved in their child’s lives.
Preventing cyber-bullying is one main area where parents were encouraged to take an active role in the fight against bullying. Love encourages parents to know the screen names and passwords of all of their children’s social network accounts.
She also encouraged the parents in the audience to become their children’s friends or followers on the various social networks. “It’s about keeping them safe not violating their boundaries,” Love told TownSquareBuzz.com. “Parents should think of themselves as their children’s guardians, not as their friends.”
“Children learn from their parents,” Love said. “They (the children) need to know that there will be consequences if they bully other children.”
The crowd at Minshew also learned about ways to help children fight back against bullies. Love taught parents about “swarming,” where a group of children surround a bullying victim and remove them from the scene of bullying as quickly as possible. “Bullying is an imbalance of power,” Love said. She added that the philosophy behind swarming is that when you remove the victim from the bully en masse, you take the power away from the bully.
One reason Love said bullying prevention is so important right now is because of the increase of school shootings. Love said that the profile of a school shooter indicates that the shooter was usually a bullying victim and the “increased violence” in our society leads to more weapons being brought to schools.
Love said the key to preventing bullying is simply for parents and teachers to not allow mean behavior from children. “It’s about modeling civic behavior,” she said.