Tuesday, February 18, 2003

Expert: Adults need to stop bully

Abusive behavior not normal for kids

By Cindy Kranz
The Cincinnati Enquirer

WYOMING - If the bus bully at your school is out of control, nationally known bullying prevention expert Stan Davis may be able to help.

Davis, a school counselor from Wayne, Maine, will visit Wyoming City Schools and the community today through Friday to train students, teachers and parents in ways to prevent bullying.

• What: Parent training with Stan Davis, school counselor and nationally known expert on bullying; free to public.
• When: 7 p.m. Wednesday.
• Where: Pendery Center Auditorium at Wyoming High School, 106 Pendery Ave.
• Information: 772-2343.
Classroom bullying is a growing phenomenon. National research shows that about 8 percent of America's students - about 4 million - are bullied each year.

Another 8 percent are described as "consistent bullies." That leaves the majority of students as mostly silent bystanders, Davis said.

"Reports of bullying peak in middle school," he said. "It is not clear if bullying declines in high school or if kids just stop telling adults about it because they believe adults will be no help. Students tell me the latter is true."

Davis has worked with young people for more than 30 years and developed the "Stop Bullying Now" program based on the research of Dr. Dan Olweus of Norway. The research concluded that bullying is not a normal part of childhood, but is an abuse of power that adults, not victims, must work to change.

"Targets have often tried many things unsuccessfully before telling adults," Davis said. "If we advise them to tell the bully to stop or to pretend the bullying doesn't bother them, we are likely to be telling them to do something that has already failed for them.

"It is up to adults to act to protect the target and begin changing the bully. The key is to remove the bully's power through consequences, through peers withdrawing their support of the bullying behavior, and through increased supervision."

Davis' visit is sponsored by the district and Wyoming's Parent School Association.

"In Wyoming, we strive to give our children the best educational experience we can," said Wyoming PSA president Suzanne Katsman. "It is important that we make sure we are doing our best to shape their characters, as well.''

Bullies are everywhere, Davis said. "What differentiates schools with higher rates of bullying from those with lower rates of bullying, according to Dorothea Ross (psychologist, researcher and author of Childhood Bullying and Teasing) is neither class size, budget, nor socioeconomic mix.

"What differentiates high-bullying schools from low-bullying schools is opportunity for bullying - supervision, accountability for harassing behavior and consistency of discipline, active versus quiet peer bystanders, and programs to support targets and help bullies change.''

E-mail ckranz@enquirer.com.

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