Stan Davis, author of Schools Where Everyone Belongs: Practical Strategies for Reducing Bullying stopbullyingnow kindly agreed to give his expert opinion on Tricia’s bullying situation. His book is extremely well researched; he actually works in a school, actually likes kids and has actually lowered the bullying rate at his and other schools.
Stan’s thoughts on Tricia’s mom’s approach:
Be Careful How You Advise
First, he cautions, kids go to adults only because they’ve tried to handle the problem in multiple ways first and couldn’t. Adults have to be very careful on how to advise kids who’ve already tried different approaches, such as “yelling back and not taking any nonsense.” You don’t want to make them feel like they’re failing at the solution.
Don’t Empathize with the Bully
But, he told me, it’s great that Tricia’s mom didn’t empathize with the bullies. So many parents make the mistake of explaining the bully’s behavior in kind ways, such as “they didn’t mean it,” or “they were feeling bad about themselves.” As Stan puts it, “tormentors don’t need that type of support.” Reserve that empathy for the kids being tormented.
Bullying Can Drive Parents Crazy
Stan also understands why Tricia’s mom stood up and confronted the kids on the bus. She was desperate to solve something. Since the school’s actions were ineffective, Tricia’s mom needed something to happen. But, Stan says, “It probably won’t work.”
Schools Should Mirror Workplaces
Schools have to create strict guidelines that mirror the workplace where workers are not allowed to impede the work process and adversely affect the financial bottom line. The bottom line at schools is the learning process.
Just having teachers randomly talk to kids about bullying goes nowhere. As Stan says, “That’s like having Nancy Reagan stand up and tell people not to take drugs.”
They don’t listen.
Tangled Ball’s bottom line: The school needs Stan’s book