The Importance of Bystanders 11

Thankfully, I had parents who taught me to help people in trouble and yet, until my thirties I did not always do this.  I have never left anyone wounded or bleeding, but there have been times when I have not stopped if I saw others were already at the scene.  I mentioned in a previous blog that I also regret not speaking up to help a friend when someone bullied her on the school bus when I was in high school.  It took me a while to really grow up, so I do get how hard it is for bystanders to step-up and help those in need, although I think it is time we worked to change the apathy within ourselves and others.

What I do not get is why in a time when bully prevention programs encourage bystanders to help, a mail carrier has to fight to try to get her job back after helping a young man who was in danger of being mauled by two pit bulls.  That is just wrong!  See this story:  Mail Carrier Tries to Get Job Back After Helping Boy | NBC Philadelphia.

What I do get and love is bystanders who do help and bloggers who post their stories and helpful information.  Read this post:  Tips for the Bully Bystander « Bullying Stories.

Warning the next link is disturbing, so I understand if you choose to skip it. 

This link includes two examples of how callous people are capable of being:  The Bystander Effect: Alive and Well, Page 2 of 2 – Associated Content from Yahoo! –

The last two links are information from a teacher’s site about the Holocaust.  I am posting them because I really fear for our nation when bystanders do not speak-up and when I see a tolerance of meanness while kindness and acceptance of differences are seemingly MIA in some of our school age children.

A Teacher’s Guide to the Holocaust-Victims.

A Teachers Guide to the Holocaust-Bystanders.

Do you speak-up when you see someone being mistreated?  Do you encourage your children to speak-up too?

Protecting Victims of Bullying 8

School Pencils

Created using Swift Publisher 3. All rights reserved.

I dedicate today’s post to all of the young people who have been senselessly bullied especially to those who died because they were “bullied to death.”

Asperger’s, which is a high form of autism spectrum and an “invisible” diagnosis started me on this journey, but over the last year I have become even more horrified over the way others are treating young people with any difference. I want to help put a stop to these senseless acts of cruelty. However, we also have to help those who have survived these cruel acts to heal as we try to make the world a better place.

Therefore, this is a continuation of yesterday’s topic. You can read it here.

You have done everything you can to “bully proof” your child and they are still a victim, now what?

First and foremost as their parent your job is to protect them and to help them to heal when they are hurt, so refuse to allow anyone to tell you anything differently. I know many bully prevention programs and books tell you to let your child handle things because as parents we sometimes make things worse. You can try to let your child handle things, but if this causes more problems for your child or your child cannot handle it, Don’t listen to them.

I am telling you this because most authors of the books and programs are talking about children who develop typically, otherwise known as “neurotypical” children. Once our children are emotionally wounded they cannot be expected to handle things themselves or if they do try to handle it, they may give up and internalize negative emotions when the teacher, counselor, or principal listens to the other side and decides our child needs to change to fit in better.

Created using Swift Publisher 3. All rights reserved.

Created using Swift Publisher 3. All rights reserved.

Think about this for a moment.  You have a vulnerable child who has been repeatedly abused emotionally and even sometimes physically by his or her classmates.  The school reacts by giving the abuser detention or at the most expels the abuser for a short duration. Now the abuser comes back and tells everyone the victim is mean and got him or her in trouble. He or she does not touch the child physically and seems to no longer be bullying that child, but is that true? In the meanwhile the victim is having to meet with the counselor to learn skills to “fit-in” better. The rest of the school sees this child is different. They are fearful of being abused by the bully too and they decide to avoid the child who is different to avoid becoming the victim themselves.  No amount of role-playing or counseling is going to help the victim in this case. 

What do you do?

You can pull your child out of the school and either home school them or find another school, or you can decide to stay and work to change an ineffective system. If you decide to stay and fight, read on. If you are not staying, that is okay and you can still read further to see other options. We all have to do what is best for us and for our child.

Okay you are staying! First ask to see the school’s bully prevention policy. Next, research your local laws to see if your state has an anti-bullying law. If they don’t, check the laws that pertain to harassment, defamation of character, privacy, and to disabilities. Now contact an organization like Bully Police or a similar organization. You can find them by clicking on the link above, and they have a state-by-state contact list. They can offer suggestions and support about what your next options are. Once you arm yourself with this information go back to the school and try to get them to help.

So how do you help those who experience bullying and the ones who do the bullying?

  1. First, I know this is going to sound wrong to some people, but do not expel the bully if this is their first known episode of bullying. Instead of detention, educate them about why their behavior is wrong. Make them do presentations to others who bully to teach them about how wrong it is.
  2. Talk to the victim to make sure the bully is really changing. Enlist at least two model citizens to act as a mentor for the victim and make sure at least one of them is with the victim at all times.
  3. Reward those who report bullying including the victim. Start a rewards program where random acts of kindness are given points and a certain number of points equates to a tangible reward. The size of the reward does not matter as much as the need to reward good behavior. Simple rewards like a homework pass or ice cream are easy to do.

Bullying might not go completely away overnight, but if we all work together and encourage kindness and support the victims, it will get better while they are in school.  Let’s not make them wait until graduation for it to get better.  That is too late! 


Mele Kalikimaka and Hauoli Makahiki Hou 13

From the Land Where Palm Trees Sway ©dswalkerauthor

From the Land Where Palm Trees Sway ©dswalkerauthor

From the land where palm trees sway, I want to share with you my dream for the future, as I wish each of you much peace and joy during the holiday season and throughout the coming year.  I hope and pray 2011 is a year of change, where people make an honest effort to be more open minded and really try to educate themselves about differences by reading books like Delightfully Different or similar stories that explain autism spectrum and/ or other differences.

Martin Luther King, Jr. had a dream and so do I.  I dream of a world where bystanders, parents, teachers, counselors, principals, and all people stand up to bullies and their parents and let them know it truly is time for change.  I dream of a world that is bully free.  I dream of a world where kindness is rewarded and more highly desired than a football championship.  Kindness, respect, understanding and acceptance should have a greater value in our society.  In the words of Tiny Tim, “God bless us everyone.”

Bullying in the Aloha State

Lanai from hotel roomWhen my children were younger we read a story book about the Aloha Bear which taught that aloha means hello, goodbye, and love. People also use it to mean peace, compassion, and mercy. Yet, even in Hawaii, we have a bullying problem that isn’t going away. Those who have been reading my blog know this affected my family directly a few years ago.

Hawaii is one of the few states without legislation specifically aimed at bullying, yet the problem is no longer being ignored. The harassment law was amended last year to allow for prosecution of technology related bullying. State leaders are working on ways to curb the bullying. The news media has also been giving it more attention this year. See the following for more information: Cyber bullying affects 1 in 2 Hawaii teens – Hawaii News Now – KGMB and KHNL Home

It is time to educate the parents as to their responsibility. For more information about this see my accountability post: Accountability for Protecting Our Children | dswalkerauthor.

A parent’s primary job is to teach their child right from wrong and to protect them from harm. Protect your child no matter what anyone at the school or anywhere else tells you. Protect them by legal means please! Work with me to change the system.

Unfortunately, you will probably also have to help your child learn to forgive so they can completely heal. Becoming the bully is not an option. Becoming an advocate is. It is truly time to change the school climate to one of tolerance and acceptance of differences. I hope some of you will be brave enough to publicly agree with me by commenting here.

Addendum: Hawaii’s anti-bullying law became effective in 2011. However, it excludes over 150 private schools. You can find more posts about bullying by clicking on more supportive schools from the menu or entering bullying in the search area.