Stop bullying by being kind to others | Mellody Matthes
By MELLODY MATTHES
Tukwila Reporter Columnist
October 18, 2012 · Updated 9:58 AM
Editor’s note: Mellody Matthes, interim superintendent of the Tukwila School District, will write a regular column for the Tukwila Reporter about the school district.
October is National Bullying Prevention Month. The issue of bullying is of great interest to many of us who have suffered with our children the hurt bullies inflict. Considerable effort has been made to combat bullying, but a quick look at news headlines each month lets us know that we need everyone’s assistance in this effort. Bullying is harassment, intimidation, and a form of violence that affects everyone; not only is the victim and bully affected, but those who see or hear bullying can also suffer damaging consequences. Many witnesses often fear that they will become the next victim of a bully and fail to get involved. These bystanders often suffer the same negative emotional effects as the bullies and victims. Bullying can lead to low self-esteem, depression, isolation, and alienation in both the bully and the victim long after the incidents have ended. In addition, many young victims of bullying do not want to come to school, leading to disengagement from the classroom and all that is offered by public education. The story of bullies is one of the most important of our time.
I am taking this opportunity to ask parents to talk to their children about bullying. Please make it clear that bullying is wrong. If you suspect that your child is a victim of bullying, report it to the principal of your child’s school. Please fill out the Bullying and Harassment Form that is available at your child’s school — it is also available on our Tukwila School District website. If you suspect your child is bullying other children, calmly make it clear that this is not acceptable behavior. Take time to discuss with your son or daughter the harmful effects of bullying and positive ways to interact with their peers. If your child sees bullying at school, on the school bus, or reads something on social media, encourage your child to report it to a teacher and/or administrator.
The Tukwila School Board has taken a proactive approach in supporting our schools to stop the inappropriate behavior of bullying. The board has updated the district’s policies related to bullying which address the behaviors and consequences of bullying among students and provides avenues for anonymous reporting they can be found on our website. This month, the Taproot Theater Co. is presenting a play to our students regarding the impact of bullying. Tukwila schools prominently display signs against bullying. Our staff is trained to watch for and address the early phases that take place in the bullying of students. Some of the early signs are derogatory comments, insults, threats, and harassment of all kinds. Tukwila school personnel aggressively work to stop the negative behavior of bullying in the school setting and encourage children to talk about their feelings and to develop self-confidence.
The answer to stopping bullying can be boiled down to a simplistic thought: we all need to want to be kind. We should model behavior that will teach children that bullying is disrespectful and can be dangerous, and it is also against the law. Let’s be kind to one another and take seriously the responsibility we have within our capacity to influence how people feel. Our children will thank us for it.
Mellody Matthes is interim superintendent of the Tukwila School District. She will write regularly for the Tukwila Reporter about school issues.