CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - As kids head back to school, their teachers are charged with a lot. Educating students, managing a safe classroom and intervening when children are being bullied.
“Bullying is well beyond joking around,” said Dr. Carole Swiecicki, Executive Director of the Dee Norton Children’s Advocacy Center. “Bullying is not two children back and forth where they are joking. It’s one directional, and for one of the children it’s not a joke.”
She says more than 11,000 children in Charleston and Berkeley Counties will experience sexual or physical abuse or assault this year, including interpersonal violence such as bullying.
As kids are settling in to a new routine and new classmates this school year, the Center suggested parents keep an eye out for warning signs of bullying, which are similar to their responses to other traumatic incidents.
Potential signs of bullying or other traumatic experience in a child.
Dr. Swiecicki said, “Unfortunately the news stories reflect the impact on kids. They are just as high risk as a child who’s a victim of something like sexual abuse or severe physical abuse for things like depression, suicidal thoughts, suicidal behaviors, acting out behaviors, starting to treat other kids in bullying ways.”
She said one in ten kids experiences significant bullying before they turn 18.
In a classroom of ten, for example, that means one child is the victim, one child is the bully and eight children are observing the behavior.
One in ten children will experience significant bullying before they turn 18, according to experts at the Dee Norton Children's Advocacy Center.
Dr. Swiecicki said parents have the power to teach those eight kids to step in and stop it. “Tell your kids that they can be an upstander – what we say instead of a bystander. You can step in. You can say, ‘Well I think that person deserves to have friends’ or ‘I want to be that person’s friend.’ Model the behavior and social skills you expect them to have.”
If your child is the one being bullied, “The parent really needs to feel empowered and be able to move forward with talking with the school. They have a right to make sure that child is safe,” she said.
The Center is also available to guide teachers and school counselors on education and prevention of bullying and interpersonal violence through its Child Abuse School Liaison (CASL) Program.
It’s important parents are observing their kids interact. You might see acting a little aggressively or controlling. “And you can model respect for their friends and good social skills so they don’t feel the need to engage in aggressive or bullying behaviors to make friends,” Dr. Swiecicki said.
If a school is calling you about your child’s negative behavior toward classmates, Dr. Swiecicki said that can also be surprising and hard to hear.
“Try to hear that. Hear what the exact behaviors are that have been going on. Even if the child is engaging in bullying behaviors, that doesn’t necessarily mean the child will do that the rest of their life. Ask the child to tell them what’s happens. State clear expectations to them: We expect people to treat each other with respect. I want you to make sure you can make friends and not have to be controlling or mean to have other people be friends with you.”
For more resources and information about Dee Norton’s resources for our community,visit their websitehere.
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