For years, I have struggled to understand why my son was apparently “emotional,” “aggressive,” “grunting” and many other adjectives and verbs that were used by some of his teachers to describe his behavior. I was summoned to the school on many occasions, (sometimes as soon as I’ve dropped him off) with the request to pick him up, as he’s suspended for bad behavior. Looking at that angelic face, surrounded by curls, with these big teary green eyes with the longest eyelashes you’ve ever seen, I couldn’t help but wonder: What makes him act so differently at school than at home? What was the trigger that had such a strong influence on his normally very gentle character? His elementary school teachers finally agreed with me, after almost three years, in second grade, that they may need to do a functional behavioral analysis, to identify the trigger points and times of the day. And bingo! It was the lunch line! They fixed it by having him take a different route than the other kids, but they never really found out what exactly was happening in the lunch line that was so distressing to Sam.
Today, almost 6 years after we had these issues, he finally told me what was going on back then. And it wasn’t in a candid one on one conversation, but in an essay he chose to write and present at school as part of his Language Arts public speaking assignment.
The speech he wrote is focused on bullying.He researched and wrote it for days, and then he also practiced reading it. He asked me to listen to him and told me that he had looked for inspiration to none other than the speeches of Martin Luther King, and JFK. He had watched their videos for hours, until he decided to read his speech to me. (I must confess I could hear the speeches through the door of his room, but decided to wait until he was ready to tell me why he was watching them.)
There is no better day to release it than on the World Autism Awareness Day! Bullying is not exclusively reserved for children on the spectrum, however, it is almost inevitable as kids with these type of social interaction issues, are such easy targets.
He said, he chose bullying as his topic because he wanted people to know, and “when they know, they won’t do it..” he said..
Here is Sam’s take on Bullying:
BULLYING: How to Identify and Stop It
There are at least 160,000 students who miss school every day because they are afraid of bullying, intimidation and abuse. This is a statistic from the national education association (NEA). The reason I decided to focus my research on bullying is because I have personally experienced how some children have said hurtful things about me, like how I smell bad or commented how I look. They say it in a way that I don’t see it coming and it makes me want to defend myself and fight back. I try to answer their insults to the best of my ability, and sometimes I feel frustrated, lonely and sad.
My teachers and my mom say I should ignore these remarks and I try, but sometimes it’s very hard. So I decided to use this project at school and let people know what bullying is and how to stop it. In this paper I talk about:
- what are the signs of being bullied,
- what are the types of bullying,
- how to avoid bullies,
- how often does the problem occur,
- how to prevent bullying in schools and neighborhoods,
- how schools should respond to bullying, and
- cyberbullying: what is it and how to stop it.
The first signs of a child, being bullied are that he or she feels sad, isolated, scared, lonely, has no friends, and is frustrated. My personal experience is that I became agitated, angry, and I was very loud telling the kids, sometimes bad words to hurt them back. But that backfired because then the teachers and my mom thought I was bad and mean. It took me a long time to tell them how I felt.
The types of bullying are
I first experienced physical bullying when I was in second grade. A boy from my class used to sneak up behind me in line for lunch and give me a painful wedgie. Another time when I was in sixth grade, a boy used to kick me in my private parts and run away. There were many other instances when I experienced physical bullying. They are too many to mention.. Every time, they [the bullies] did it so fast that no one saw them. I was left with pain and anger. And my anger was very loud. It was so loud, that it got me in trouble and often I ended up in the principal’s office or in time out. Physical bullying can be very painful and scary. No one should have to go through it. I was too confused to tell the teachers or my mom what was happening. I thought I could defend myself.
Psychological bullying is even sneakier. Bullies can tell you something in passing or they can laugh at you and then they can say they are just joking with each other. My experiences were very difficult. Since as far back as I can remember, there were always some kids who would call me names, or who wouldn’t want to sit close to me, and laugh, and point, and make faces at me.But It was always very hard to prove, and even harder to stop. I hope that all kids who experience psychological bullying are brave enough to share it with teachers and parents, because that’s what helped me the most.
I don’t know much about cyberbullying because I don’t use technology to communicate with my classmates. From what I read about it, it can be as bad as physical and psychological bullying combined. Bullies can spread bad rumors about you and that can be also used to bully you at school physically and psychologically. So don’t let the bullies win, always talk to an adult and ask for help.
There are not that many ways to avoid the bullies at school. They could be in your class, or in the lunch room, or even in your own neighborhood, so you would be stuck with them on the bus on your way home. Some of the ways that have worked for me are:
- Just ignoring what they say
- Walk away when they start annoying you
- Surround yourself with friends
- Stay in touch with a trusted adult – like talk to your teacher or principal. (I like to talk to my vice principal Mr. V! He always has great ideas for me!)
Bulling can happen once in a blue moon or as often as many times during the school day. It doesn’t matter how often it happens, it’s wrong and you shouldn’t be silent about it.
So, how to prevent bullying altogether. Unfortunately, there is no easy answer or solution. Educating people about bullying is one way. Schools and neighborhoods can create focus groups and meet weekly to discuss ways of identifying bullying behaviors and bullied students, so that the problem doesn’t get worse. It would be a good idea to also educate students who are being bullied that there is no shame in admitting that your life is miserable because someone is bullying you. Also teach students that it’s ok to ask for help.
I think schools should respond very quickly to cases of bullying and talk to the parents and students about it. The best way is to probably call an assembly of all students, parents and teachers and let them know what they found out and how they plan to deal with it. Of course no names should be mentioned, but the problem should be discussed immediately.
Cyberbullying is just what it sounds like: bullying on the internet, or through text and email. The cyber bullies send mean messages, post embarrassing photos of someone, kick them out of online groups, spread nasty rumors about the person, and many more. The best strategy to dealing with cyberbullying is the same as in physical and psychological bullying: ignore and remove yourself from the situation. Next steps is to seek help from someone who is familiar with that technology, and find ways to block the bullies, while preserving what they write for evidence. Most of these cases can end up really badly for the bullies. Unlike the psychological and physical bullying, there is a lot of evidence that they are doing it.
In conclusion, I would like to say thank you to everyone who has helped me overcome my problems with bullying and my reactions to it. I hope that this paper can help someone in their silent fight against bullying.
Thank you for your attention!