The following content is created in consultation with Apple Federal Credit Union. It does not reflect the work or opinions of NBC Washington's editorial staff. To learn more about Apple Federal Credit Union, visit Applefcu.org.
From the schoolyard to your local community, bullying knows no boundaries.
That's why Apple Federal Credit Union, a not-for-profit, member-owned financial cooperative that's served the education community for over 50 years, wants to create bully-free environments. By partnering with NBC4 for the Changing Minds campaign, Apple Federal Credit Union is helping prevent bullying by creating schools and communities that respect diversity.
As a parent, you can pitch in too. The first step in preventing bullying is identifying it. Being bullied is a humiliating experience and children are often reluctant to discuss what goes on in the schoolyard, especially if they feel like it might jeopardize their relationships and alienate them from their peers. Therefore, it's important that parents look for these telltale signs to see if their child might be the victim of bullying:
- Unexplained injuries
- Difficulty sleeping
- Faking illness
- Change in eating habits
- Avoiding social situations
- Apathy toward school
- Self-destructive behavior like running away, harming themselves or talk of suicide
It's also important for parents, members of school staff and other caring adult authority figures to help children understand bullying and to let them know they are never alone. According to StopBullying.gov, adults can help prevent bullying by doing the following:
First and foremost, parents should talk to their children so that they know what bullying is and that it isn't acceptable. Types of bullying include verbal (teasing, name-calling), social (spreading rumors, embarrassing someone in public) or physical (hitting, tripping).
Of course getting your children to open up can be difficult. That is why it's important to establish open lines of communication. Foster a safe, open and honest relationship with you children by checking in with them often, asking about their friends, classes and concerns. When approaching a conversation with your children, ask open-ended questions such as “What does ‘bullying’ mean to you?” “Describe what kids who bully are like.” “Who are the adults you trust most when it comes to bullying?”
This is where educators come in. Assessments—such as surveys—can help schools determine the frequency and locations of bullying behavior. They can also gauge the effectiveness of current prevention and intervention efforts. Adults underestimate the rates of bullying because kids rarely report it and it often happens when adults aren’t around. Assessing bullying through anonymous surveys can provide a clear picture of what is going on.
School administrators like principles can play a powerful role in bullying prevention, but they can't win the battle alone. That's why it's important for parents and children to engage as active members in the anti-bullying process. For example:
-- Students can contribute their views and experiences with bullying. They can take leadership roles in school to promote respect and inclusion, communicate about bullying prevention with their peers, and help develop rules and policies.
-- Parents can contribute to a positive school climate through the parent teacher association, volunteering, and school improvement events.
-- A school safety committee—a small group of people focused on school safety concerns—is one strategy to engage parents and youth, as well as others, in bullying prevention.
- Set Policies and Rules
School staff can help prevent bullying by establishing and enforcing school rules and policies that clearly describe how students are expected to treat each other. Consequences for violations of the rules should be clearly defined as well.
- Build a Safe Environment
A safe and supportive school climate can help prevent bullying. Safety starts in the classroom. Students should also feel and be safe everywhere on campus—in the cafeteria, in the library, in the rest rooms, on the bus, and on the playground. Everyone at school can work together to create a climate where bullying is not acceptable.
To achieve this, school administrators need to work together to create a culture of inclusion, make sure students interact safely (particularly by monitoring "hot spots" on the premises) and establish a tone of respect in the classroom.
Apple Federal Credit Union is committed to changing minds and creating bully-free environments.
With over 20 branches across Northern Virginia, free online banking and access to more than 53,000 ATMs nationwide, Apple Federal Credit Union makes managing your money easy. Click here to learn more.