Solving the issue

Administration along with students find that bullying is not a big issue within the halls of FHC.

March 17, 2016

Bullying is often a difficult issue to handle because it’s hard to find the most effective ways of prevention and the most effective consequences. The root of a bullying problem isn’t always clear to the administrators and teachers attempting to handle it. If the wrong problems are focused on in a bullying situation, a student’s’ well-being may not be put first.

According to assistant principal Mrs. Marty Davis, bullying is not a big issue here at Central, and the administrators do a pretty good job of keeping any bullying problems under control.

“We do try to make sure that we keep track of the reports of incidences where students are reporting bullying,” Mrs. Davis said, “but once we have an opportunity to sit down and talk with that student, then we can determine is this bullying or is this not. It’s not a great, big issue, but we do have some situations that are.”

When bullying problems arise, students usually report the incidents to counselors or administrators, but sometimes parents will let principals know first. There are multiple ways the school will try to deal with bullying.

“The first thing we do is try to get as much detail and information from the student who feels as though they’re being bullied,” Mrs. Davis said. “When we get those details, we then involve the other student as well as pulling in their principal.”

The school wants to hear the story from both sides, hopefully to figure out where the problem actually started and who is at the root of it.

“Sometimes, we find it’s both people involved,” Mrs. Davis said. “Sometimes we find it may be clearly one person antagonizing another.”

From there, it’s mainly just talking through the problem with the students, helping the bully to understand what they’re doing is wrong, and taking any necessary disciplinary actions.

“Depending on the degree of what’s going on, if it’s necessary for discipline, there’s discipline. If it’s not necessary for discipline, we always do a warning, and we always make sure that it’s in writing,” Mrs. Davis said. “If it’s a certain type of bullying that crosses over into harassment, sexual or racial, we also talk with the student about the Title IX and Title VI, which are different harassment laws.”

Usually, these methods are effective at solving bullying problems, but there could also be a mediation between both parties if nothing else has worked.

“Once a student finds out that we are made aware that you’re doing something intentionally to another person to demean them or make them feel bad, then usually, it does stop,” Ms. Davis said.

A bullying situation is slightly different from a student’s point of view. Senior Mary Halloran does agree that bullying isn’t the biggest issue at school, but knows that it is still an issue.

“I don’t really see it [bullying] happen often in the hallways, but it’s not always in the hallways where you see it,” Halloran said. “I guess it’s a big issue everywhere. I don’t see it here, but I know it’s an issue.”

Halloran believes there are better ways the school can try to prevent bullying than just presentations during seminar, simply because people don’t take the presentations seriously.

“I think a lot of the people who need to hear the message of it don’t really pay attention to it,” Halloran said. “The people who are hurting others are the ones who aren’t going to pay attention to something like that, a serious concept we present to them. It’s hard to get kids at school with their friends to listen to a serious topic.”

Halloran thinks the presentations shouldn’t be just words on a screen but something that would be more real to the students.

“I’ve seen things where schools have had assemblies where they have kids from their own school just talk about their experience and the effect that bullying had on them,” Halloran said. “I think that could definitely open the eyes of people who would otherwise not pay much attention to a video in class.”

Halloran believes that the administrators are doing the most that they can to prevent bullying, and she knows this can sometimes be difficult to do because it’s hard to change someone’s mindset.

“Within their power, they do the best that they can. Obviously, there are things they can’t do. I think there’s more they wish they could do and they can’t,” Halloran said. “Punishing a kid who doesn’t really care about the punishment isn’t going to stop them from being a bully. I think you have to change the heart of the person to stop the action, and that’s definitely a hard thing to accomplish.”

From the Parents Perspective

When addressing the bullying issue many are quick to think of the victim, or perhaps even the bully, and the parents of the victims are almost forgotten

Advocate for both students and parents Tina Meier, founder of Megan Meier Foundation, shares the tips and tricks for parents who are going through the situations of their children being bullied. Tina’s daughter, Megan, was cyber bullied on MySpace, and eventually committed suicide, although heartbreakingly brutal and terrible to endure, Tina now uses her experiences to help other families in similar situations, which is crucial because the way in which the adults helps their child through the situation determines whether or not their child recovers from their experience, or falls victim.

“Bullying is not something that just goes away on its own, it is not something that children can just ‘work out’ without mediation, and it is not something kids will just naturally outgrow. If you know (or think) that your child is being bullied, your participation is critical to a successful outcome,” according to the Bully Project website.

It can be overwhelming for a parent in this situation; as many do not know what to do, how to help, or how to react, and what many forget is it can be just as daunting to the parent as it is the child. According to Meier, it was very sad to see her daughter be bullied, and she was unsure of what to do as a parent in this situation.

“At that point I really felt horrible,” Meier said. “I felt like as a parent I wasn’t sure what to do, because ignoring it wasn’t going to work.”

Parents respond differently towards the amount of stress, fear, and confusion this situation creates, and there are wrong and right ways to go about it. One of the first things to know not to do according to the Bully Project, is to take immediate action, or even lash out at the bully or the school, know this will not help the situation and in fact will only add more fear, panic, and uncomfortability to your child.

“It can be scary for a child to hear that a parent is planning to lash out at a peer or parent,” according to the Bully Project. “Try not to leap into action right away, but instead focus on making sure your child feels taken care of and supported. Without blaming the bully.”

According to Meier instead of taking immediate action, it is important to sit down with your child, and truly listen to their feelings, and discuss how to fix the situation.

“When a parent comes in in full force with ‘I’m going to fix, I’m going to do it, I can’t believe this is happening …’ the kid is already upset, and they’re already unsure, and now they see the parent doing the same thing,” Meier said. “The parent is supposed to be the safe place, so when everybody is kind of in an uproar it can cause a lot of anxiety and stress. It is better to ask: ‘what are some things I can do to help?’ And then I think that teen can be able to say ‘I think I can handle it on my own’ and if they say they can handle it on their own then say ‘Okay, I trust that you can, what are some of the things you’re going to plan on doing? Let’s talk about that, or is there any support I can give [to that]?”

In contrast to some parents acting too quickly and too extremely, other parents have problems with realizing the true importance and extent of the bullying their child is experiencing. Again, this is another response that only negatively effects your child, and makes them more reluctant to ask for further help. By making their problems seem small, or something they can get over, it can make the victim feel very unheard, and unhelped, according to Meier.

Meier feels that as adults, who have gone through similar things, gotten past it, and gotten older, it is harder for them to see how it could be affecting their child that drastically. They tend to dismiss the problems their children are expressing, and this is something to attempt not to do.

“What we’re doing [when we dismiss their feelings] is not really hearing our kids and really what they’re feeling…[and] kids need to just know that they are heard,” Meier said. “I would truly listen to what [they] are feeling… and I would validate [their] feelings. Even if I didn’t feel it was that serious, or I didn’t feel a certain way about it, that is not a situation for my feelings. What matters [is] how certain things make another person feel, and that is how people know they are heard.”

According to Meier in some cases, children may not tell you or anyone at all that they are being bullied, in this instance it is up to the parent to pay attention to his/her child, and determine whether or not they feel they are being bullied. When going about asking their child if they are being bullied, it is important to be delicate with the situation, if handled incorrectly, the child will shy away, possibly even more than before.

“I’m not sure if I would even use the word bullied all the time, the word bullied, especially for high school students, is a word of weakness so a lot of kids don’t want to admit to that,” Meier said. “Teens relate to stress, pressure, rude people, they will relate to those things more so than the bully part.”

According to the Bully Project if/when your child tells you about their experiences being bullied it is important to remind them that you are thankful that they opened up to you, and you are willing to do all that you can to help. Let them know that they deserve to live a life bully free, as many times students forget this.

“Remind your child that everyone has a right to feel safe and happy at school, and applaud the courage it took to take a stand and talk to you. Make a commitment to work with both your child and the school administration to resolve the issue,” The Bully Project said.

Of course when working with the school, it is important to remember to never confront the bully themselves, or their guardians as this can in some cases, make it worse, according to Meier.

“Adults even addressing a minor is never a good idea, and if if the parent tries to address the other parent we even suggest not to do that because many times you’re going to get two different stories, from two different kids,” Meier said.  “We suggest never to do that confrontation, and never as an adult adress another kid because … sometimes that comes across as a parent threatening a child.

As a parent in the situation of their child being bullied, Meier feels there are a few steps they should take in order to get through the problems effectively and easily.

“First take a deep breathe. Listen to their feelings. Document what they are saying,” Meier said. “Make some decisions on what the next steps are going to be and work with them on an action plan.”

Behind the bully

Gea Henry explains what it felt like to change from being a bully.

From the moment she walks in, junior Gea Henry lights up a room. Her smile and bubbly giggle are infectious. Her happy-go-lucky attitude, even on a drowsy Monday, is a wonder. However, Henry was not always one to build people up. Beginning in elementary school, Henry used to bully her peers to the point of making them cry.

“I had a friend in kindergarten and she was very, very mean, for lack of [a] better word. We both grew into very mean people. We thought we were better than everybody else,” Henry said. “We would push people around and just downright bully people, force them to cry, just awful things.”

When she began middle school, Henry tried to turn over a new leaf, but still found herself picking on others in order to make herself feel better.

 

“I kind of tried to get out of being mean and you just kind of go back to the groups that you had because that’s where you feel safe,” Henry said. “I tried to be a better person, but I was probably more like ‘Oh! I’m doing a great job at being a nicer person.’ On the inside, I was still [thinking] ‘I’m so much better than everybody else’ or ‘I’m so much more talented.’ I was a nice person, and I had good intentions, but it was that sense of wanting to feel better about yourself and wanting to put other people down so you get that recognition of how you feel about yourself.”

The bullying continued through middle school, where Henry found herself on the upper end of the social ladder and would pick on so-called “weird kids.”

“One of my great friends now was weird in middle school. I used to not like him at all, even though I had never talked to him. ‘He’s one of the weird people you know? I can’t talk to him!’ And I would yell at him and it was awful,” Henry said.

Much of the reason why Henry bullied people was not to make them feel small, but to give herself a false sense of power.

“Whenever you’re mean to someone or overpowering someone, I’ll admit, there’s a feeling of defiance where you feel good about yourself because you’re putting other people down. You’re making yourself feel higher up,” Henry said. “That kind of justified it in my mind, because I did it all the time so there’s nothing wrong with thinking I’m better than everyone else. You feel inside like there’s a fire in you when you’re being mean to someone because you know you shouldn’t be doing it and you do it anyway. It makes you feel reckless and exciting, but it’s a bad kind of exciting and reckless.”

But Henry doesn’t crave that reckless and exciting feeling anymore. A single event caused her to open her eyes to what she was doing, and it changed her outlook and attitude forever.

“In middle school, I called someone a bad word and really offended her because I didn’t want her to sit at my lunch table. I had to go to one of the principals and talk it through. I started crying and I thought ‘Never again am I ever going to do that!’,” Henry said. “It was the inciting incident. That was kind of what made me start to think ‘Okay. This could actually get me in a lot of trouble.’ It was a turning point in making me think about what I was doing.”

From that moment on, Henry made the conscious decision to stop belittling people, and to work hard to make others feel comfortable and valued.

“I didn’t want to make anyone feel uncomfortable or like they were less than me and I started thinking differently and it just kind of caught on, like a second nature almost,” Henry said. “That nice nature was always inside of me, I just never brought it out as much as I did with my mean nature. Certain things brought out the good in me that was already there.”

When high school came along, Henry had a brand new outlook and another opportunity for a clean slate. However, she struggled to shake the reputation she had as a bully in earlier years.

“I didn’t realize that I had [a bad reputation] until highschool when people started telling me about it. My close friends would say ‘Gea, you were really mean in middle school’ and it’s like ‘was I really?’,” Henry said. “Even my parents were like ‘Gea, I noticed it too, and I didn’t know what to do about it’ and I was just wowed.”

While Henry’s days of bullying are long over, she has learned from her past mistakes and uses her experiences as reasons to be a happier, more optimistic person.

“It was definitely not good of me to treat anyone like I was better than them or to make anyone feel like a lesser being. But I am okay with it happening, because if it hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t be the person that I am today,” Henry said. “I have a reason to be nicer now because it’s a way of making up for everything. But it’s a better way to be nice and now I can look back and say it was a different time.”

As for bullies today, Henry believes there is no reason to belittle another human. Life would be better

“Life is too short to make other people feel bad because it is,” Henry said. “There’s really no point to making anyone feel bad because everyone’s life is too short and everyone should be living it and be happy.

Same Issue, Different Continent

Foreign exchange students talk about bullying in their home country as well as the United States.

Same+Issue%2C+Different+Continent

Anti-bullying campaigns run rampant across the United States. As a culture, one is bombarded with documentaries, personal stories, and support groups for such a serious issue. The US’s adamant war on bullying seems to be effective, with only 20% of high school students admitting to being bullied. What about other half of the hemisphere? Globally speaking, there is a distinct differences between Western cultures and the rest of the world.

Foreign exchange students Pisonlaya Jantasuwan and Lennart Rosenbrock experienced first hand the definition of bullying across the globe.

Known as Laya by her friends and fellow students, senior Jantasuwan has seen a difference between bullying in the United States and her native country, Thailand. In the Thailand school system, consequences carried a heavier weight.

“We have 50 points for school. If we do something bad, then you [lose] that point. It’s very important when we go to a university, those points. The points stick with you in college,” Jantaswan said.

With strict consequences and future impact on university acceptance, bullying issues should decrease. However, according to Laya, it is even more evident in Thailand, especially bullying of the physical variety.

“In school, the boys punch each other and the girls hit each other. It’s more physical. Here, at this school, I don’t see a lot of physical bullying. I don’t really see a lot of bullying here,” Jantasuwan said.

For Rosenbrock, bullying in Germany sounds much like it does anywhere else. To him, people are still struggling with the same typical problems.

“You get made fun of for the general things, like how people look. If someone is a nerd, they might get bullied. Bullying there [is for] different reasons [just like here]. You have to look at each person  [to see] why they get bullied,” Rosenbrock said.

To prevent the issue of bullying, European countries often act similar to the United States.

“We have what we do here [in the United States], like seminars. People come who are experts on this theme and go over how to prevent bullying, how to report it, and how to handle it,” Rosenbrock said.

Wherever you live, the issue of bullying travels across borders. Rosenbrock acknowledges that no matter what culture you’re a part of, tearing someone down still exists.

“Bullying is a bad thing. Teachers and nobody wants to see it. They try to prevent it but you can’t prevent people bullying. It’s just like here. Some people just get bullied.”

Millennials vs. Parents

Parents and their children share their opinions on bullying

It is constantly heard throughout school hallways, out on the town, and even on social media. Millennials are the people of the now, the people of this generation. They are the people born within the years in range of 1980 and 2000.

Millennials are no longer shaping up to follow the cookie cutter people that their parents and the previous generations want them to be. They are becoming their own people, or just following the crowd of people who want to be themselves. For some, though, there may be a higher cost. Sometimes putting your personal views out there for others to see can cause outside problems. Whether it be views on what you thought of last week’s Bachelor episode, or what you think about the future of our country, everyone has an opinion on something.

Danna Tedder, is a trigonometry teacher and a mother to three millennials. She knows firsthand what it is like raising this generation and how the outside forces can have an inside impact.

Young people see and hear more of what’s going on in the world because of social media. It only takes a split second for information to be shared,” Mrs. Tedder said. “Due to social media and technology, everything is instantaneous.”

This is not just a new topic that has surfaced, it’s a topic that has gone away and come back several thousand times. People are constantly ridiculed and judged for what they believe in or what their interests are, and that’s why bullying is such a deep topic. It’s not necessarily due to the fact that bullying has “increased” over the years, it’s that the awareness of it has.

“I’m not sure bullying has really gotten worse, it’s just that today, partly because of social media, we hear about it when it happens,” Mrs. Tedder said.

Bullying is an everyday occurrence. Whether it be to one’s face or through social media, it’s happening. It’s real. Bullying isn’t just something that you see on TV shows or you read about in news articles. It happens everywhere, all the time. Whether it be because some people are raised differently than others or some people have more drive than others, it doesn’t matter. Bullying is bullying.

According to CNN, our generation, the “millennials,” are being raised with deep precautions. Their parents have raised them, helping them and taking control over so many things, that millennials are not able to keep up with it on their own. It’s not that they’re “soft,” it’s that they don’t necessarily know how to take complete control of their lives.

Helicopter parenting, coupled with the belief that we should never let our children fail, have given rise to kids who are ill-prepared to cope with life’s challenges,” said Robin Koval, an author, in a CNN article.

Once again, it is not due to the fact that Millennials don’t know how to take control of their lives, it’s that up until adulthood, it has basically been done for them by parents or other parental type figures.

Millennials have grown up in a time era that is different than any other. It has been a difficult time and it’s not going to get easier, especially as they grow up and face the world on their own for the first time. It’s a new experience, and there is no doubt that it will definitely be a challenge.

“Teaching children to think for themselves and not just follow the crowd [is the most difficult part of raising children in this generation],” Mrs. Tedder said.. “Young people seem to be under a great deal of more stress than generations before them.  There seems to be this desire to always be and have the best regardless of the emotional toll it takes.”

Having a discussion

Taking time to talk to the aggressor, or bully, before the problem worsens.

When someone thinks of bullying, the first subjects they consider is how to prevent it before it becomes serious as well as who to turn to in order to halt the harassment in its tracks. However, one rarely ever ponders the idea of talking to the aggressor themselves before it becomes a serious issue, which, as counselor Tim Holmes suggests, could be even more useful in preventing this sort of behavior from occurring.

Mr. Holmes, who has had a long history of experience when it comes to dealing with this issue and the consequences of it, says that this sort of action is recommended to prevent further bullying and abuse. However, he also believes that in order to be truly effective, it should be treated less like a conversation and more like diplomatic mediation.

“Having a conversation is a great idea depending on the level of force involved. However, the bully often won’t listen and will continue to pick on them,” Mr. Holmes said. “What we encourage is peer mediation where each person comes down to the guidance office and discusses their problems.”

Mr. Holmes likens this more diplomatic approach to the relationship between countries and believes it can prevent further aggression.

“Peer mediation is diplomacy. It’s like what happens between the United States and other countries,” Mr. Holmes said. “If someone is picking on the U.S., we try diplomacy before going to war. Mediation can be difficult, but it should be used. Bullying should be stopped with [mediation] because without it, it could continue.”

The method is extremely effective, with around 85 percent of all sessions resulting in lasting resolutions. Despite the effectiveness of this method, Mr. Holmes said many students don’t utilize it to its fullest extent. In fact, many don’t even know it exists.

“Students aren’t sure who to turn to with things like these and don’t know how to go about doing [peer mediation],” Mr. Holmes said. “We have a program like that here, but only students who have used in past years know how to use it, so we need to get the word out.”

When it comes to when this conversation should be attempted, counselor Michelle Breuer has a very clear idea as to when this should be done.

“They should say something as soon as they can,” Ms. Breuer said. “They can let that person know or come let the counselors know.”

Mr. Holmes agreed with that assertion, stating this sort of thing should be gauged based on the student being bullied and the level of harassment. He also provided an explanation as to how the peer mediation sessions work at FHC.

“In peer mediation, we sit both kids down and start out with the counselor explaining the situation. We let the student being bullied explain the problem, and then we let the bully explain their point of view,” Mr. Holmes said. “Then, we tell the first student to be a little more specific about the problem. We give each of them time to talk without being interrupted. Finally, we ask them want they want from each other.”

Ms. Breuer believes that the students should be honest about the topic at hand and not shy away from expressing their feelings.

“You need to let someone know that they are upsetting you. Don’t beat around the bush because that doesn’t help anything,” Ms. Breuer said.

Mr. Holmes stresses confidentiality when it comes to matters regarding the mediation session as he believes that it helps smooth over relations.

“What’s important to remember is what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. We don’t discuss what happened outside of the counselor’s office,” Mr. Holmes said.

However, these methods don’t always work out, and Mr. Holmes believes that discipline would have to be the next course of action.

“When it’s over, we say that nothing will happen. No disciplinary measures will occur if this stops,” Mr. Holmes said. “However, something might happen if problems continue. There may be some discipline involved, but you have to start with dialogue, then discipline.”

Coping with a situation

Coping with the hardship of bullying is important before doing something rash.

When being bullied, it’s easy to want to lash out at the bully, become angry, and retaliate violently. However, this usually doesn’t improve the situation; in fact, it often only incites more bullying and inflicts negative consequences on the victim. Instead of fighting fire with fire, there are alternative methods that are proven to be even more effective.

One of the simplest solutions to being bullied is to simply ignore the tormentor. Although is it a common myth that avoidance can be a sole solution to bullying, it can help in certain situations. Bullies tend to want to illicit a response from their victims, so not retaliating in any way can cause them to lay off. This, of course, isn’t always possible; if the bully is persistent or especially harsh, attempting to ignore it can lead to more psychological damage and isolate the victim. It’s only applicable when the bullying is not especially bad and the victim has the emotional support to be able to brush off insults without being too affected.

This emotional support itself is also a good tool in coping effectively with bullies. Bullies tend to pick out kids who seem to be alone because they’re easy targets. This bullying then causes kids to further isolate themselves, creating a vicious cycle. Surrounding oneself with friends, or even just friendly faces, can dissuade a bully and give the victim a support system to help cope with the emotional damage they may have sustained. A great way to make these friends is to join an activity, whether with the school or outside of it. This can not only help one form friendships with like-minded people, it can also create an outlet for pent up aggression as well as distract from the bullying, which is another method of avoidance, but a much healthier one than simply ignoring the tormentor.

If avoidance simply isn’t going to work, confronting a bully is possible, but doing so effectively and without retaliating can be tricky. Be assertive, but not aggressive. Stand up for yourself in a composed manner; there is a fine line between standing up for yourself and being aggressive. Avoid insulting the bully back or being violent in any way, as this can quickly escalate into a fight or another unwelcome situation. Confrontation can help, though, as long as it’s in a civilized manner, because it can cause a bully to see a strong figure instead just of a weak kid.

The most obvious mechanism to help stop a bullying situation is to tell an adult, whether that’s a parent, teacher, or other trusted adult figure. It seems lame to tell someone, but there are some times in which there is no other alternative. If it gets to the point where the bullying can no longer be handled by a single person, an adult can make an impact and even stop the bullying completely. It isn’t snitching or tattling; it’s simply defending yourself from irreversible damage, and it is a much better alternative to lashing out or being aggressive towards the bully.

Bullying is not uncommon, but many bullying situations end in the victim becoming aggressive and lashing out from rage they have kept pent up about it, which then causes the victim to be punished instead of giving them the help they need. Alternative methods to aggression are proven more successful in not only stopping bullying situations but also in preserving the victim’s mental health.

Speaking out

Bullying is a topic that is brought up frequently in high school; from prevention to awareness, the torment that students face still holds prevalence even with all of the seminar lessons. The district offers help and guidance to those that are willing to speak; however, what is being done to actually cease bullying in FHC?

The district’s code of conduct states that “By any means including, but not limited to, in person, telephone, cyberbullying, writing, or via electronic communications with the intent to intimidate or inflict physical, emotional, or mental harm OR physical contact with the intent to intimidate

(such as acts of extortion) or to inflict physical, emotional, or mental harm. May be considered a Level 3 or 4 infraction if deemed serious enough by the principal/designee.”

In other words, there is a zero tolerance policy for bullying and the assigned level of offense ranges from conferencing with a principal, to suspension or expulsion. The code of conduct has told students, parents, and faculty the repercussions for bullying; however, it still very much exists in the district. So, what’s the problem?

The answer is that students don’t report bullying, according to guidance counselor Wendy Ahearn.

“[Bullying] is brought to our attention more often by parents, than the students themselves,” Mrs. Ahearn said.

If guidance counselors and principals don’t hear about it, then how can our school even be sure that bullying is an issue? It all plays down to the he said, she said. With social media and the talk of students, it is not too hard to hear about things that occur with students.

“Whenever I have researched bullying, it always seems the most effective with a bystander empowerment approach. They have to take action, speak up, and come to someone’s aid; any action other than stand by and witness bullying in silence,” said Ahearn.

There are a number of reasons why students do not report bullying and senior Dulci Hedges concluded that bullying isn’t taken as seriously.

“I think people who are bullied and try to reach out are overlooked because others think they’re ‘Being too sensitive’ because ‘It was just a joke’ and everything that is considered a joke should just be overlooked and not to be taken seriously,” Hedges said.

Talking it out

Counselors Tim Holmes and Michelle Breuer explain how talking through the experiences can help victims.

When someone thinks of bullying, the first subjects they consider is how to prevent it before it becomes serious as well as who to turn to in order to halt the harassment in its tracks. However, one rarely ever ponders the idea of talking to the aggressor themselves before it becomes a serious issue, which, as counselor Tim Holmes suggests, could be even more useful in preventing this sort of behavior from occurring.

Mr. Holmes, who has had a long history of experience when it comes to dealing with this issue and the consequences of it, says that this sort of action is recommended to prevent further bullying and abuse. However, he also believes that in order to be truly effective, it should be treated less like a conversation and more like diplomatic mediation.

“Having a conversation is a great idea depending on the level of force involved. However, the bully often won’t listen and will continue to pick on them,” Mr. Holmes said. “What we encourage is peer mediation where each person comes down to the guidance office and discusses their problems.”

Mr. Holmes likens this more diplomatic approach to the relationship between countries and believes it can prevent further aggression.

“Peer mediation is diplomacy. It’s like what happens between the United States and other countries,” Mr. Holmes said. “If someone is picking on the U.S., we try diplomacy before going to war. Mediation can be difficult, but it should be used. Bullying should be stopped with [mediation] because without it, it could continue.”

The method is extremely effective, with around 85 percent of all sessions resulting in lasting resolutions. Despite the effectiveness of this method, Mr. Holmes said many students don’t utilize it to its fullest extent. In fact, many don’t even know it exists.

“Students aren’t sure who to turn to with things like these and don’t know how to go about doing [peer mediation],” Mr. Holmes said. “We have a program like that here, but only students who have used in past years know how to use it, so we need to get the word out.”

When it comes to when this conversation should be attempted, counselor Michelle Breuer has a very clear idea as to when this should be done.

“They should say something as soon as they can,” Ms. Breuer said. “They can let that person know or come let the counselors know.”

Mr. Holmes agreed with that assertion, stating this sort of thing should be gauged based on the student being bullied and the level of harassment. He also provided an explanation as to how the peer mediation sessions work at FHC.

“In peer mediation, we sit both kids down and start out with the counselor explaining the situation. We let the student being bullied explain the problem, and then we let the bully explain their point of view,” Mr. Holmes said. “Then, we tell the first student to be a little more specific about the problem. We give each of them time to talk without being interrupted. Finally, we ask them want they want from each other.”

Ms. Breuer believes that the students should be honest about the topic at hand and not shy away from expressing their feelings.

“You need to let someone know that they are upsetting you. Don’t beat around the bush because that doesn’t help anything,” Ms. Breuer said.

Mr. Holmes stresses confidentiality when it comes to matters regarding the mediation session as he believes that it helps smooth over relations.

“What’s important to remember is what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. We don’t discuss what happened outside of the counselor’s office,” Mr. Holmes said.

However, these methods don’t always work out, and Mr. Holmes believes that discipline would have to be the next course of action.

“When it’s over, we say that nothing will happen. No disciplinary measures will occur if this stops,” Mr. Holmes said. “However, something might happen if problems continue. There may be some discipline involved, but you have to start with dialogue, then discipline.”

Leave a Comment

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




FHCtoday.com • Copyright 2020 • FLEX WordPress Theme by SNOLog in