Dealing With Bullies: Who's to Blame?

Kim Conte

dealing with bulliesDoes your kid ever get picked on at school?

Any parent who has ever dealt with bullying or social exclusion—whether your child is the victim or the offender—knows how upsetting this can be. But who's to blame for the bullying problem: Kids? Parents? Schools? Doctors?

Some pediatricians now believe that it is the schools' responsibility to prevent bullying—instead of only protecting the victims or ignoring the problem altogether.

In other words, does your school have a "zero-tolerance policy" with respect to bullying? Under such policies, schools simply suspend or expel the bully, which may be effective in the short-term. However, they often do nothing to follow-up with children—making sure that the victims' situation has improved and/or helping the bullies and their families "learn to function in a new way." More important, they do nothing to prevent the problem or identify potential conflict situations or locations (for example, the out-of-sight corner playground).

Next month, the American Academy of Pediatrics will officially recommend that schools adopt bullying prevention programs. Such programs will seek to prevent bullying by focusing on informing and activating the other kids—the majority of kids who witness the bullying but are not involved. Once these kids "realize that the bully is someone who has a problem managing his or her behavior, and the victim is someone they can protect" they will be less likely to tolerate bullying.

Has your child every been involved in bullying? Were you happy with how the school dealt with the situation? Or do you think it needs a new bullying policy such as this?

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