TO STOP SCHOOL BULLIES
Parents Learn About Classroom Harassment
Parents and educators were informed of the dangers of school bullying and how to begin curbing the constant harassment and intimidation that many students face in the classroom at the Thursday, Nov. 19 Community Education District 32 Council meeting held at P.S. 376 in Bushwick.
On hand to detail the characteristics of child bullies and the long-term ramifications of their abusive and sometimes violent behavior were Roni Benson and Ginger Lieberman, who have both recently co-authored a series of anti-bullying books and also serve as co-directors of LIPEN, a New York-based professional education network.
Benson pointed out that 160,000 children in the United States miss school on a daily basis because of the fear of classroom bullying. But while the aggressors outwardly express their inner rage, the victims continually internalize their emotions to the point where they eventually “explode.”
The keynote speakers further mentioned that one in four school bullies will have a criminal record by the age of 30, and urged parents to look for warning signs in their children indicative of derisive behavior toward others, including poor impulse control, narcissism, lack of empathy and preoccupation with violence available through several forms of media.
“The bully is looking for someone who looks differently or someone who shakes and quivers. They are cowards that will pick on people they feel can’t physically or verbally challenge them,” offered Lieberman.
“This is a worldwide phenomenon. This generation of children is much meaner and much less respectful to each other, their parents and their teachers,” added Benson, who’s been to London, Tokyo and other parts of the globe to speak out on the subject.
The duo has published Bullyfrog as a tool to help children (ages five through 10) understand bullying through color stories and lesson plans.
It was noted that parents should do their best in teaching their son and daughters about violence since many children wind up having a distorted view of physical harm and destruction by the video games they play. Once they press the reset button, said Lieberman, everything on the television screen is back to normal.
Audience members were also lectured on how vital it is that students empathize with their classmates by imagining themselves in someone else’s shoes and understanding why they look, act or speak in a certain way.
“If your child uses a word you don’t like, call them over and tell them that you don’t like it. Don’t allow name calling, swearing, or hitting at home or it may carry over in school,” observed Benson, a Brooklyn native.
Some extra tips provided to community members to help instill the proper values in children, included:
• Learning how to praise others • Avoiding put-downs • Selecting positive role models
• Understanding consequences
Contrary to popular opinion, according to the co-authors and workshop leaders, girls are more prone to becoming bullying victims by meanspirited peers obsessed with power and control in the interest of gaining popularity. They acknowledged that females will often resort to physically hurting and frightening other girls to establish their dominance.
Listeners were also alerted to the dangers of cyber bullying through emails, cell phones and instant messaging to spread hostile messages.
The two speakers went on to advise the crowd of over 10,000 websites that cater to pedophiles. In addition, they warned of numerous adults disguising themselves as adolescents and teenagers online.
“Eighty-five percent of students the victims, they’re the silent majority. We must empower this silent majority to aid victims,” Benson concluded.
Other guest speakers
Raphael Rivas of the Brooklyn Center for the Independence of the Disabled spoke about the services available for disabled high school students through his program. BCID specializes in assisting people in need with financial aid and housing solutions.
Cpl. Ricardo Rosado of the United States Marine Corps was also in attendance to remind people of his group’s Toys-for-Tots initiative, which is committed to providing under-privileged children with Christmas gifts. For further details on the endeavor, call 1-718-338-9695.
District 32 Community Superintendent Lillian Druck kept parents up to date on a myriad of issues, including a recent vote on the part of the Panel for Educational Policy to put an end to social promotion for fourth and sixth-grade students. It was reportedly decided that the children in question only be promoted once they’ve demonstrated that they’re ready to take on the challenges of the next grade.
CEC 32 regularly meets at various school locations in Bushwick on the third Thursday of the month.
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