The threat of bullying does not end when the final school bell rings, signaling the end of the school year. Bullying can happen anywhere, anywhere that children are together. It can happen at summer school, recreation programs, summer camp programs, and summer sports academies or in cyber space.
Talking to your children about bullying should not end with the end of the school but rather it should be an ongoing conversation. Just as parents counsel their children at every age about issues such as alcohol use, tobacco use and drug use, an open dialogue about bullying should also be in place. These conversations may be especially important as your children head off to summer recreation activities, whatever they might be. Remember, that a tormentor may continue to taunt their victims remotely.
This possibility has been made less difficult with the advent of such mobile devices as tablet computers and smart phones. Cyber bullying can occur any time, any place, even under the nose of a camp director.
A recent national survey for Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed the pervasive nature of bullying and how it can happen in any setting. More than one in five has been bullied on school grounds, grades 9-12 and sixteen percent reported that they had been electronically bullied through texting, emails or instant messaging. Girls at 22.1 percent were electronically bullied more than twice as often as boys at 10.8 percent. Girls in tenth grade were the most bullied at 24.2 percent followed by eleventh grade girls at 19.8 percent and tenth grade boys at 18.1percent.
Parents or guardians should ask their child if they are being bullied or if they have seen other children being bullied. Bullying relies on one key factor, silence. If children report bullying there is an opportunity to intervene. When a child discloses bullying to an adult it is truly a remarkable event. Some research indicates that many children feel shamed by the bullying experience because they feel they should be able to protect themselves from being bullied in the first place.
Though they are the victims, they often blame themselves rather than the bully. If a child chooses to disclose to an adult, that adult must have proven themselves to be trustworthy on a very high level for the child to disclose a bullying event.
Children who have special needs, have disabilities or behavioral problems are bullied more often than children who do not have any of these issues. If your child falls into this category you may want to meet with the program director to share your child’s special circumstance or need. You may want to evaluate how or if the program has a policy or strategy for helping children with special needs during the summer. You might ask how they will keep your child from being bullied.
No matter what you child’s level of functioning is there is one thing you can do to help keep your child safe. By teaching them to treat everyone kindly and with respect you will be teaching them what to expect from others. When bullying events occur your child should know that it is OK to tell an adult what happened to them or someone else that may have been bullied.
Just as children are told to respect everyone, that same respect should be afforded to them and that respect includes not being bullied while at a summer program or camp. There are many online resources for parents or guardians to review that can help a parent to talk reasonably with their children about bullying.
Some offer what to watch for if you suspect your child has been bullied. Perhaps the best protection against bullying may be a solid relationship with a parent that a child can tell if they are being bullied.
Remember, all kids count.
Reach the writer at wildblue.net