School Bullies Stopped by Anti-Bullying Programs

As reported in separate stories by Yadira Betances and Margo Sullivan in the New Hampshire Eagle Tribune, some middle schools are effectively implementing anti-bullying programs.  There are some differences in the programs to stop bullies, but both have the seven elements crucial to success.

1. The programs specify what acceptable and not acceptable behavior is

General statements about respect and empathy are not enough.  These programs give graphic examples of many forms of harassment, bullying and abuse.  The unacceptable violence ranges from prejudicial put-downs and personally demeaning or mocking comments, to repeated acts of supposedly accidental tripping and shoving, to physical attacks.  The programs point out that bullies may act any where – on the school bus, by the lockers, in the lunchroom, in the playground and in classes.  In successful programs, the specific list of unacceptable behaviors evolves as new incidents arise.

2. Children are taught specifically what to do if they’re bullied or if they see someone being bullied

Critical to the programs’ success is that kids stick up for other kids.  The kids always know who the habitual bullies are.  The principal, teachers and staff must also.  Ignorance is not an acceptable excuse.

3. The programs involve everyone

School board members speak out against bullying and review and support the programs.  Principals and teachers are involved.  Administrative staff and bus drivers are trained and supported.  The adults set the tone: No bullying allowed.  The adults are proactive, not merely reactive.

Most heartening is the involvement of the students.  Kids lead the way in promoting the programs within their schools and in presenting it to other schools.  Education is on an emotional level that’s age and grade appropriate.  Fifth graders learn differently than seventh graders do.  Most kids are excited to know they’re important participants in the programs and they know they’ll be listened to, supported and protected by the adults.Parental support is critical; especially a core group of parents dedicated to supporting the principal and teachers.

The programs and policies are public; everyone who works at the schools, every kid and every parent knows what the ground rules are.

4. Consequences are clear and action immediate

Programs fail if repeat bullies are allowed to continue bullying during lengthy therapy and education processes.  The first task of the adults is to make the schools safe.  That often involves isolating or removing bullies rapidly.  Rehabilitating or converting habitual bullies takes second place. 

5. Administrators, school principals and teachers are courageous

Their moments of truth are when they have to face irate and bullying parents who defend their little terrorists by threatening to sue the principal and school for harassment.  That’s like in the Harry Potter series, when Lucius Malfoy protects his vicious son, Draco.

In order to survive those moments, principals need to have good documentation, staff needs to pool written reports and school district administrators need to back the program.  A good lawyer helps make staff’s efforts legal.

Critical to the programs’ success is a vocal group of parents supporting the principal’s actions.

6. Individual training of kids at home

Teach children not to bully to get what they want or to make themselves feel better.  Also teach them how to respond successfully to bullies; from learning to use verbal skills to learning how to fight back physically if necessary.  Face it; some bullies won’t stop until you beat them up.  Physical consequences for repeated physical actions are a good lesson for them as they grow up.  A child’s effective self-defense sends a different message to bullies than does any repeated beatings they might have gotten at home.

Successful self-defense also increases a child’s self-esteem and self-confidence, and is good preparation for the world children will face as adults.

7. All these steps must be done at the same time

There is no one cause of bullying – like bad parents or uncaring teachers or cowardly principals or rotten kids – so programs won’t succeed if they focus on only one aspect of the problem.  Successful programs get everyone involved to stop behavior that affects everyone.  They work at the individual level, the classroom level, the school level and the district level.

Resources Cited:
http://www.eagletribune.com/punews/local_story_160224120.html and http://www.eagletribune.com/punewsnh/local_story_163004312.html

Online Traffic School – Don’t Pick the Wrong One

Attending traffic school is sometimes the penalty given by a judge to a driver who violates traffic law. They are required to spend approximately eight hours studying the basics of driver safety as well as become acquainted with recent laws that have come into effect concerning driver regulations. Now that the field of online education has begun to take off as a legitimate alternative to traditional classroom education, more and more drivers are opting to take California online traffic school instead of going to the classroom.

Courses delivered over the Internet are approved for use in place of the old style of school, and the certificate of completion that a student receives after taking one of these courses can be used to dismiss a California traffic ticket or have points removed from a license. In certain situations, it is also possible to receive a discount on the driver’s auto insurance premium as a safer driver if they take California traffic school and pass the final exam.

For students looking to take California online traffic school, there are a few pointers to keep in mind. First, the school must be one of the approved providers for the court that issued your citation. To find out whether the school of your choice is approved, you can usually ask the school itself or double-check with your court. California has several different governing bodied depending on the region of the state in which you live, so there is no one place to check for this information. Many reputable schools are approved, however, and it should not be difficult to find one to meet your needs.

Second, you should look for a school that has the features you want in a defensive driving course. Some examples include:

  • Ability to work on a web-based platform, meaning you do not need to install the course software on your hard drive. This allows you to work from more than one computer, which becomes important if you would like to work both from home and from another location such as your office.
  • Excellent customer service — the norm is to be able to get an immediate response during office hours, but some schools provide 24-hour customer support, which is particularly helpful if you are taking the course in the evening or on the weekend.
  • Ability to work at your own pace — this does not only mean being able to go through the material as quickly as you want (in some areas, you may not be permitted to do this because of legal requirements that you “be in traffic school” for a particular minimum duration). It also means being able to set up your own program of study, working for a specified duration or number of course units that you choose for each sitting. This will allow you to fit your own schedule and work at a pace you find conducive to your own learning style.

The Internet has given us many opportunities for introducing convenience to our lives, and taking defensive driving online is just one of them.

Accredited Home School

Statistics prove year after year that an increasing number of American families are setting-up their own accredited home school. While raising my daughter, I never had the luxury of doing so, because I was a single parent, and had to leave the house to earn our keep. At one point, I did send her to a private school, but after about a semester, I took her out. We were living in southern Florida at the time, and although we lived in a very good area, I was wary about the Florida school system. So, I opted to try private school, but that too wasn’t the ideal situation for her or my pocket book. Perhaps, if I had known about the option of setting-up our own accredited home school, I may have tried to find other ways to support us and make it work.

I am only learning now that there are scholarships and grants available for parents who home school their children. It’s unlikely, however, that when she was of school age that any kind of financial aid was available. If you are in need of funding, you may want to begin by contacting the HSLDA (Home School Legal Defense Association), an organization dedicated to promoting homeschooling.

I think that if you are lucky to find other like-minded parents, it is a good idea to pool your resources with regards to finances, talent, and time. Ideally, if several families got together to home school their children under one umbrella accredited home school, the quality of education would greatly improve. Having the support of another adult is also better for the parent-child relationship, because realistically, you and your child may not always be on best of terms. When a child experiences firsthand how your ideas are similar to their schoolmate’s parent, s/he is more likely to be more cooperative with you.

On the other hand, if you are not an expert in every subject that your child must learn, it’s good to have a partner parent who can fill that void. For example, part of your child’s education should include the basics of home-economics, but in my case, my child would not get the best lessons if she was exclusively under my tutelage. However, another parent may excel in that area – or at least that would be the case with me. I have musical and artistic abilities, but I am certainly no Suzy Homemaker. I have the education and skills to give music and art lessons, but not baking or sewing lessons. I think that a child can come to resent the home school if s/he is not given the opportunity to work with skilled teachers, particularly when their own parent is lacking in knowledge, skill, or ability. Therefore, I am a proponent of farming out children to experts in their field when a parent is ill-equipped in certain areas. If, however, this is not possible, there is certain to be a DVD that you could borrow from the library or purchase where you and your child can learn together. As a matter of fact, learning together with your child may prove to be a very good educational experience for both of you. In this situation, you may take the role of student, and allow your child to assist you. This could prove to be a very rewarding experience, especially if your youngster needs a boost in self-esteem.

One of the downsides to having a single parent accredited home school is that your youngster is not given the opportunity to measure his or her abilities against another child’s and neither are you. A parent operating without the input of other parents and watching the development of other children has nothing in which to measure their own teaching skills, or their child’s abilities. This is not to say that I believe that all children must equally measure up to his or her cohorts’ abilities, but children do a tremendous amount of learning from each other. Without that social interaction, children have nothing in which to measure their own self-worth. Therefore, whenever possible, try to pool your resources with other parents who also home school their children.