What every principal or school counselor should ask

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School personnel are always taught to treat a bullying incident which is seen or reported as just a single event. However, this reporting may just be the tip of the iceberg for the one being bullied.

Often when bullying is discovered, it is likely to have happened before. Bullies tend to bully others when a teacher or authority figure is not watching, and often in places where they are absent altogether, like locker rooms and restrooms. When the bully is caught, it usually because he or she has become overconfident in getting away with the behavior.

Because of this possibilty, it is very important to ask the victim, “Have you been bullied by this student before?” If this experience just began recently, then the administrator or school counselor can be sure all bases have been covered.

If the victim responds that the bullying has been going on for some time, then the emotional damage to the victim could be substantially greater.

A positive answer to the first question should lead into a second question, “How long has this been going on?” The longer it has been going the greater emotional impact on the victim. If the abuse has been going on for several months or more, professional counseling may be needed to help the victim.

The final question which needs to be asked is, “Have you been bullied by other students?”

It is a known fact, kids who are noticably different in some way, such as because of a handicap or extreme shyness, are often bullied by more than one other student.

In order to successfully help the victim, all those involved in the abuse need to be spoken to and dealt with.

A victim who is verbally abused over a long period of time often will lose the ability to comprehend the difference between true bullying and someone joking with them. They can become paranoid of other students. This is why it is important to consider these questions.

The incident they report may not be actual bullying, but there may be plenty of bullying in their past which needs to be addressed in order to help the victim.

Signs of bullying school personnel may notice include:

• Declining grades, loss of interest in schoolwork, or not wanting to go to school

• Suddenly loss of friends or avoidance of social situations

• Feelings of helplessness or decreased self-esteem

• Frequent headaches, stomach aches, feeling sick or faking illness

• Self-destructive behaviors such as running away, harming themselves, or talking about suicide

• Unexplained injuries

• Lost or destroyed clothing, books, etc.

______________________________________

The 3 Questions:

1. Have you been bullied by this student before?

2. How long has this been going on?

3. Have you been bullied by other students? ______________________________________

Kurt Kolka
Kurt J. Kolka grew up in the small community of Grayling, Mich., near the forested AuSable River. After majoring in English at college, he began a career in writing and newspapers spanning more than two decades. In his spare time he creates a Christian comic strip, The Cardinal, which has a 28-year history of publication. He has also authored a book, “Bullying is No Laughing Matter” (Front Edge Publications, Ann Arbor, Mich., 2014) and is working on his first novel. Kurt and his wife Diane have been married for more than 25 years and have one daughter, Rebekah, and an overprotective dog, Alli. Of life, Kurt says, “Life is never dull with God at the steering wheel, but, man, does He have a lead foot!” More about Kurt and his musings may be found at www.betweenthepines.org.
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