There was a 7th grade girl at Lynden Middle School who committed suicide last week. I stumbled onto some Facebook exchange that suggest that the worst kind of peer bullying was happening to her, and continues to happen to other students.
Bullying isn’t new. What is new is the ability to amplify it through social media.
Social media tends to be quite narcissistic. If your post didn’t get any reactions does that mean a tree fell in the forest and no one heard? Too many people live by their social media feed. It would be an oversimplification to say that some live and die by their social media feed.
A few years ago I took a phone call from a parent who claimed a child was getting picked on by kids at ZLO. I was never able to determine what exactly had been said that made the child feel that way, but when I asked some of our other students about it the situation seemed to clear up. Our kids didn’t know the particular student was so sensitive, and hadn’t meant what they said to mean harm. But that student did not return the following year.
Bullying can be active and overt, or it can sometimes be the perception of someone when they are in disagreement over anything. Bullying can happen at ZLO.
I know of only one method to detect and end it, and that is the involvement of our parents with our students when they are on deck in a supervisory capacity. We do have a policy: When something going on makes us uncomfortable we will contact parents. If you are supervising and think something may be out of line, then please say something. If you’re uncomfortable in contacting a parent then I’ll help you do that. We’ve learned it’s good to raise the flags when we see something wrong. “Have a look here” is pretty simple.
So I invite ALL parents to show up, hang out during study hall and especially at lunch, interact and try one of these things:
- Talk with our students, except maybe when they are studying. Get over your shyness about ‘someone else’s kids’, and start a conversation with a kid you don’t know. Every one of our kids is precious in the sight of our Lord, and we all need to convey that message to them.
- If you see them on their devices then ask what they like to do with their devices. Don’t be afraid to stick your nose in their devices and find what they are saying to each other. I KNOW the world is full of rough conversation. We Christians should be different!
- We have lots of table games that kids can learn to play. Feel free to bring a favorite of yours and invite some kids to play.
- As the weather improves, there is a little lawn out back where kids can get some sunshine. Go with some kids to enjoy the sunshine!
The more supervision we have going, the fewer problems we will encounter. The key to teaching kids to behave well is to model good behavior for them, insist on it, and be present for it. Come on by! I just hung out the ‘Welcome’ sign.
—Molly Crocker, Administrator, ZLO