THE PLAYGROUND BULLY
By Elana Laham © 2013 Elana Laham
Children who are victims of bullying do not have to be told what bullying looks like. Kids not only know what playground bullying looks like - the one bigger than them with his/her gang up group, but they also know what it sounds like - name calling, gossip mongering, it taste like - a knuckle sandwich, it smells like - the stink of disgust, and it feels like - a myriad of many adjectives in various shades of black called pain.
If the reader is interested in viewing the above inscription then please go to hyperlink 02B at www.bullcrapbusters.com.
It amazes me to no end how society is so completely ineffective at putting an end to child bullying. Society goes out of its way to avoid dealing with the root of the problem – the child bully, himself. Either out of plain ignorance or deliberately evasive indifference educational institutions are going about it in the wrong way by focusing on what the VICTIM or BYSTANDER instead of what the BULLY ought to be doing to STOP BULLYING.
Let’s take a look at the following popular options for remedying playground bullying that do NOT work:
OPTION #1 – NOTIFY THE SCHOOL
If you notify the school that your child is being bullied on the playground, or on the school grounds, the chances are great that the school will do nothing to alleviate the bully-victim conflict other than to blame the victim for being bullied by insisting that the victim deal with the bullying.
The following is a real life scenario involving a parent who tried this option:
Due to an ongoing problem of playground bullying, the mother drove every day to school to pick up her ten year old daughter after school was let out. But she was already too late. As her car approached the school grounds she saw a mob of kids beating up her little girl. After the mother managed to rescue her daughter from the throng of flying fists and kicking feet that were pummeling her body, she went to the school principals office and reported to him what had just happened. The principal of the school’s reply to the parents cry for help to put a stop to the daily beatings that her child was going through was, “Your child has to learn to get along with her peers”.
OPTION #2 – BECOME A PARENT VOLUNTEER
Becoming a parent volunteer at your child’s school to stop bullying is futile since the bully(s) have plenty of places outside of the classroom such as the playground, the bathroom, the lunch area, the auditorium, etc, etc, etc, to victimize the victim without being noticed.
The following is a real life scenario illustrating what happened to two parents who tried this option:
Their child committed suicide after being relentlessly bullied throughout elementary school even though his mother and father got involved in the parent teachers association and assisted the teacher in the classroom as teacher aids in the hope of stopping their child from being bullied. A bully is a bully because he knows how to get away with bullying. Thusly, the bully is not going to bully a victim in any place or at any time where there are people around who might act as witnesses to the bullying.
OPTION #3 – TAKE THE VIGILANTE APPROACH
If you try to take the bully-victim conflict in your own hands you risk being prosecuted for doing so.
The following is a real life scenario illustrating were the parent ended up who tried this option:
On a school bus a male bully child repeated choked and slapped a female victim child. The entire event was caught on the school bus’s camera. When the mother found out what had happened to her little girl the mother got on the bus, choked and slapped the bully brat, and said “How do you like it?!” This entire event was also recorded on the school bus’s camera. The mother of the victim child was then slapped with a criminal record and thrown into jail. No one had anything to say about the matter except that, “He (the bully) does not know any better”. Well, if I had anything to say about it I would have said, “There is no better time than now, while he is still a child, to teach the boy that his conduct is unacceptable”.
OPTION #4 – KEEP THE CHILD HOME BOUND
If you keep your child from attending school in an attempt to protect him from being victimized by the bully you risk neglecting to give your child an education. The child will then grow up without a future in society.
OPTION #5 – TRANSFER THE CHILD TO A NEW SCHOOL
If you transfer your child to another school to protect your child from being bullied, you can only hope that he does not become a bully target again.
OPTION #6 – HOME SCHOOL THE CHILD
If you can afford it you can hire private tutors to home school your child and perhaps in that manner prevent him from becoming another bully statistic. However, in doing so you may put your child at risk for the “far reaching” consequences that it will have upon his lack of social development. Also, this will not resolve the bully-victim conflict for your child when he leaves home or for any other child who has to attend an educational institution.
OPTION #7 – PARENTS RALLY TOGETHER
If you get together with other parents in your community who are sick and tired of the bully scene and stage an anti-bully protest at your child’s school, it may prove to be futile as the school may choose to ignore your concerns. Public schools are run by the United States Government, not parents, so it has the political power to decide if a school remains open or closes for whatever reason.
OPTION #8 – TEACH THE KID SELF DEFENSE
Send your child to karate or kickboxing class. Great idea! Sorry no! One reason is because some martial arts-instructors are bully(s). So all the child will learn how to do is become a lick-butt kick-butt bully having to lick butt to his Sensei in order to be taught how to kick bully butt.
Another reason is because the moment your child beats up the bully with his new found fighting skills, the bully coward will run away only to return with reinforcements. No matter how great your kid is at self defense he will most probably end up in the hospital having been ganged up upon by the bully and an overwhelming number of kids, of which a few might even be much older than your kid. Most grown up black belt martial artists or “well seasoned” kick boxers yet even they cannot prevail against such odds as twenty or more opponents coming at them all at once. That is why even in the movies the scriptwriter only allows one opponent of the many to attack the martial artist at any given time. Not to mention that the bully or his followers may bring knives or guns to the fighting scene. Remember this and do not forget it. The bully does not fight fair because he is a coward. I met a male Japanese martial artist who had a third degree black belt in three different martial art forms. His advice to me was that one must always avoid a fight even if it means having to flee from it. The bully and his gang of too many is the reason why.
A third reason why using physical self defense on the bully is not a great idea is that, even if your kid is so proficient at karate or so efficient at kickboxing that he beats up the bully and scares the bully’s buddies away, the bully’s father might be a local police officer, or the judge of the town, or the mayor of the city. You don’t want or need an unwarranted arrest or unfair lawsuit that you cannot win against your family. Never mind that the bully always starts the fight. And never mind that the bully beats up innocents for no reason. The bully will not get into any trouble for doing so. You can thank the Bully Culture for its double standards of social conduct for this. After all, the rulers of the Bully Culture are all bullies themselves!
OPTION #9 – HAVE THE KID TELL A TRUSTED ADULT
The authority bully will give kids bad advice regarding bullying. They will say such things like, “tell a trusted adult that you are being bullied.” This is only beneficial if the child knows a trusted adult or adult(s) to be able to tell. Then adults can step in to help stop the bullying. However, more often than not, how is a victim child supposed to know who a trusted adult is when we live in a Bully Culture, which breeds all sorts of grown up bullies? The so called trusted adult is the one who makes excuses for the bully child’s bullying behavior by perpetuating the myth that, “Kids are cruel by nature.” Kids are cruel by nurture. They learn what they live. Infants are not biased against their playmates for being a different race, believing in a different religion, having a different sexual orientation, being a different age, being a different size and shape, etc. There are parents who teach their children that it is okay to pick on another child just because he is different in some way. There are parents who don’t instruct their children to be kind. That alone is what makes children mean.
Second of all, if the victim child makes a mistake, and the odds are very high that he will error, the victim child’s pain will be invalidated by either getting ignored, belittled, or ridiculed by the so called trusted adult.
Third of all, the child victim will get bullied ever the more so for telling a so-called trusted adult that he is being bullied. This is because the child bully will retaliate against the child victim by getting the entire school to pick on the child victim for having been a “Tattletale”, “Snitch”, or “Nark”.
The following is an example of what I mean:
What does our society otherwise known as the Bully Culture do with the child who is fat and so gets bullied by his peers? Yes, he is overweight. But no, he is not bothering others. The elite bully –the leaders of our civilization – do not focus on educating the bully to respect others by teaching the bully anger management techniques, and by instructing the bully to accept other peoples’ differences. Instead they concern themselves with making the victim accountable for the bully’s actions by for instance insisting that he go on a diet.
This is not for health reasons, otherwise most of the food at the grocery store that momma has to buy for her family woulda, shoulda, coulda not be contaminated with all sorts of junky ingredients. Not to mention the junk food that the school cafeteria sells to the kids. It has to do with giving society the message that the fat child ought to no longer be a so-called eye sore for the other children to have to look at. This resounds and reverberates the message to us ALL that the victim is at fault for the suffering that the bully causes him.
Moreover, any caring parent who prevents his victim child from attending government mandated school in order to protect him from being physically harmed or emotionally hurt by a child bully is at risk for being arrested and/or put into jail. Thusly, those who dare to intervene on the victim’s behalf are to be punished.
What ought to be happening is that the blame for bullying be put where it belongs – square upon the bully child’s shoulders who is in desperate need of counseling because he does not know how to or does not want to socialize. Furthermore, if the bully child continues to be a threat to the safety of other innocent children, then the bully’s parents ought to be incarcerated for raising such a monster.
As an educator, I, myself, had my share of dealings with the playground bully child. However, instead of looking the other way or blaming the victim for being a victim of bullying, I dealt with the bully-victim conflict.
OPTION #10 – TEACH THE CHILDREN TO BE POLITE
While watching the NEWS on television I observed how Elementary, Junior High, High Schools, and Colleges are advocating that schools put an end to the bully-victim conflict by instructing its students to be polite. Being polite will only make the child victim more of a victim than he already is. Now he will know how to be a nicer people pleasing doormat and more readily willing to swallow the crap that the child bully dishes out to him. Being polite will only make the child bully better at getting away with being a bully. Now the child bully will know how to be a nicer lick butt in front of authority figures so that he can be a meaner kick butt to the victim behind everyone’s backs.
OPTION #11 – PAL AROUND WITH OTHERS
Another so called solution to the bully problem that schools offered was to tell victims not to walk to and from school alone. Having a child victim hang around another child to avoid being victimized by the child bully is futile. Since the victim has already been singled out by the bully as the bully target of social ridicule no child is going to want to pal around with him, not even another victim. Moreover, even if adults recruit other children to keep the child victim company, the child bully will assemble a larger mob of followers to overpower the victim group. Now you will have a gang war on your hands!
Making the victim child or the bystander child responsible for the bully child’s bullying behavior does NOT WORK. It is just another way of “Blaming the victim for being a victim of bullying”.
Let’s take a look at the following TWO options for remedying playground bullying that DO work:
1) On an individual basis, if we are serious about doing away with playground bullying, then we, THE ADULTS, must make the bully child accountable for his bullying behavior. Parents who are willing to take on the burden of bullying can get justice by alleviating the pain the playground bully child metes out to the innocent victim child by pursuing legal action against the physical bully child’s parents, guardians, care takers, or care givers as well as the school that is allowing the bullying to go on. Schools have an obligation to keep kids safe. For more information on how to pursue legal action against the playground bully, go to the “Physical Bullying” web page of the BullCrap Busters website.
2) One a school basis, let’s take a look at the following option for remedying playground bullying.
A SPECIAL EDUCATION PROGRAM
The bully child has an antisocial psychopathic personality. So the only thing he comprehends, understands, and knows is his own pain. He does not care about the pain of others. Therefore, educational institutions are going to have to give up the popular belief and convenient notion that, “The victim child is to blame”, or that its the bystander child's fault for not pitching in to help the victim. Educational institutions are going to have to start putting the burden of BULLYING right where it belongs – square upon the shoulders of the bully child. There is only one way to accomplish the task of doing away with the bully of the playground, locker room, and campus, and that is by way of the NO NONSENSE Approach to bullying. The No Nonsense Approach to bullying makes the bully not the victim or the bystander accountable for the bully’s actions. For it to be implemented successfully it must be based upon the premise that no one has the right to physically harm or psychologically hurt another, unless it is out of SELF DEFENSE
The playground bully is an emotionally disturbed child. Due to the neglect and/or abuse that occur in the home, this includes homes that spoil their kids with materialism; the playground bully has trouble communicating his wants and needs and difficulty articulating his feelings. Thusly, he resorts to becoming physically violent and/or verbally abusive with others. CHILDREN ARE NOT MEAN BY NATURE. CHILDREN LEARN WHAT THEY LIVE. Since the child is being subjected to cruelty by significant others, and because the Bully Culture teaches a child that being ruthless is the only way he will get what he wants and needs; the child models bullying behaviors as a way to cope with the hostile environment that he has to live in.
Being that the playground bully is an emotionally disturbed child, he has special needs. The No Nonsense Approach to bullying will require that, like any other emotionally disturbed child, the playground bully be enrolled in a special education program. In order to help the child overcome his bullying behavior, special education classes for the playground bully will emphasize a Behavior Modification approach, which implements both positive and negative reinforcements.
Positive and negative reinforcements will aid in assisting the bully child in doing away with his bullying behaviors by letting the playground bully experience life they way it was meant to be experienced before the Bully Culture came into being and interfered with the natural order of things – the natural causes and the natural effects that follow the bully’s own actions. For instance, a natural cause and effect woulda, shoulda, coulda be that if a child puts his hand on a hot stove the child will burn his hand. Following the burn is the PAIN that will teach the child not to put his hand on a hot stove again. In a functional humane society parents nurture their child according to the natural order of cause and effect. And so the parents warn their child to stay away from a stove’s flame. However, being that we live in a dysfunctional society, there are those parents who nurture their child in an unnatural manner. As a hypothetical example, if the child puts his hand on the hot stove and it gets burned the parents will blame an older sibling for leaving the stove on instead of admonishing their child for putting his hand in a fire.
Both positive and negative reinforcements must be meaningful to the playground bully. Meaningful reinforcements are consequences and rewards that the playground bully cares about that immediately affect him. They are the only types of reinforcements that the bully child will take seriously enough to change his bullying behavior. So for example, if the child victimizes another child with bullying, the child bully, not the child victim, will be SOCIALLY ISOLATED from the rest of the group.
Meaningful negative reinforcements for the playground bully are consequences that require that the bully child receive the same type of discomfort that he gives his victim. This will teach the playground bully to, not only sympathize with his own pain, but to empathize with the pain that he causes others, as well.
The following is an example of a MEANINGFUL negative consequence for bullying behavior:
THE THREE STRIKES RULE
If the playground bully’s bullying of another child makes the child victim unable or unwilling to attend school, then the child bully must undergo what I call the THREE STRIKES RULE. The three strikes rule gives the playground bully three chances to stop bullying other children. After the first victimization of another child, the playground bully is temporarily suspended from school. After the second victimization of another child, the playground bully is suspended long term from school. After the third victimzation of another child, the playground bully is permanently suspended from school.
The following are three examples of how the three strikes rule may impact the bully child:
Strike One: If the playground bully’s bullying traumatizes another child in such a way as to make the child victim have to seek counseling, then the child bully must undergo counseling as well . School counselors ought to be required to intervene on behalf of both the bully child and the victim child.
Strike Two: If the playground bully steals or vandalizes the victim child’s property, then the school ought to be required to act as an advocate for the child victim. One way the school board can do this is by assisting the child victim’s parents in getting restitution for monetary damages from the child bully’s family. This means that, if the child victim’s parents pursue legal action against the child bully’s parents for property loss or damage, the school will obligingly provide any evidence against the child bully that will help the child victim’s family win their case in court, such as surveillance cameras or witnesses.
Strike Three: If the playground bully’s bullying terrorizes another child, resulting in the child victim being too petrified to attend his classes. Or, if the playground bully’s bullying brutalizes another child so that the child victim is no longer safe at school. Or, if the playground bully’s bullying torments another child causing the child victim to not be able to focus on his schoolwork, get bad grades in his schoolwork, and thereby have to repeat a grade or grades; forcing the child victim to not get an education or the child victim's family to have to finance tutoring or home schooling in order for their child to get an education; then the child bully’s family must be made to pay for their own bully child’s education through home schooling or tutoring or do without an education for their bully child by being banned from a public school education. Maybe, if an education comes out of the parents’ own pocketbook, or the bully child is at risk for getting no education the parents will take it seriously that their child is a bully and get help for their child and themselves in order to rectify their bully child's behavior.
We don’t allow criminals who endanger peoples’ lives to freely roam our streets. So, why woulda, shoulda, coulda we allow dangerous kids to come to school?
Why do we allow crimes to be committed by children against other children so that our children will grow up to be criminal menaces in our society?
Why should the trouble making child bully be given an education when he is depriving the child vicitm who is not making trouble from getting an education?
Schools are morally and ethically obligated to ensure the complete physical safety and total psychological wellbeing of the children that they educate. If they are not legally obligated to do this, then they ought to be, and we must lobby for such laws to be passed.
As with any other emotionally disturbed child the playground bully must not only be punished in a meaningful way for his bullying behavior, but he must also be rewarded in a meaningful way for correcting it. For positive reinforcements to be meaningful they have to be tailored to the individual bully child’s likes and interests and be based upon what kind of bully he is. Is he the bully who victimizes his victims since he craves attention – the manipulating bully; or is he the bully who victimizes his victims because he is driven to release aggression – the intimidating bully; or is he the bully who victimizes his victims due to a sense of inadequacy - the maniulating and intimidating bully???
THE BULLY WHO CRAVES ATTENTION
The bully who craves attention is the child bully who displays bullying behavior in order to get attention. The purpose of meaningful reward incentives for the child bully who craves attention is to help him reform by replacing his negative attention getting bullying behavior with leadership skills and personal recognition so that he can get positive attention.
The bully who craves attention will be given positive reinforcement as a reward for eliminating negative attention getting behavior.
Positive incentives are to be given to the child bully who craves attention on a scaffolding basis. We take baby steps since we are working with children. Therefore, positive reinforcements will be given for low, moderate, and high levels of improvement in eliminating bully behavior. In addition, with each higher level of improvement towards bully reform, the child bully is to be given leadership privileges and/or recognition for personal achievement in front of larger and larger groups of people.
The following are some positive reinforcements for low levels of improvement in eliminating bullying behavior for the bully who craves attention:
For Grades K – 6, the child bully can be given the leadership role of being hallway pass, bathroom, or playground monitor to reinforce school rules. He can even keep an eye out for the playground bully on the playground.
For Grades 7 – 9, the child bully can be given the leadership role of assisting the school janitor in repainting over graffiti defacement of school property.
For Grades 10 – 12, the child bully can be given the leadership role of being allowed to make announcements over the school’s loudspeaker.
The following are some positive reinforcements for moderate levels of improvement in eliminaing bullying behavior for the bully who craves attention:
For Grades K -6, the child bully can be given the opportunity to participate in the making of bulletin boards for the classroom.
For Grades 7 -9, the child bully can be given the opportunity to participate in the making of a mural for the school’s auditorium.
For Grades 10 – 12, the child bully can be given the opportunity to participate in the making of the school’s banner for the school’s athletic games.
The following are some positive reinforcements for high levels of improvement in eliminating bullying behavior for the bully who craves attention:
For Grades K – 6, the child bully will receive the student of the week award, which will be given to him/her in front of the entire class.
For Grades 7 – 9, the child bully will receive the student of the month award, which will be given to him/her in front of the entire school of students and teachers during assembly.
For Grades 10-12, the child bully will receive the student of the year award, which will be given to him/her in the auditorium in front of the entire community of students, teachers, and parents. This award will be presented for outstanding citizenship and academia.
Besides the use of negative and positive reinforcements to reform the bully child, the following real life scenario behavior modification approach is one example of how to change the bullying behavior of the bully child who craves attention:
Kenneth was a precocious, inquisitive, gifted, sixth grader who constantly interrupted his teachers from teaching and his fellow students from learning. Kenneth was so disruptive that he was assigned to my Resource Specialist Program for behavioral intervention. My plan was to us reverse psychology on Kenneth by giving him positive attention to get him to stop doing his negative attention getting behavior.
The next day, I began my class as usual. But when I started to introduce my lesson plan, as predicted, Kenneth yelled out, “Miss M. I have a question!” Instead of answering Kenneth’s question, I asked him, “How would you like to be the teacher for today?” Without reservation Kenneth jumped half way out of his seat and exclaimed excitedly, “Okay!” “Here you go Kenneth”, and I handed him the chalk and directed him to the front of the class with a brief explanation of what we were going to learn that day. To my surprise Kenneth executed my instructions quite well.
But that did not last long because, suddenly and without warning, I jumped up half way out of my seat, and blurted out, “Kenneth I have a question!” Surprised and bewildered by my disruption, Kenneth slowly turned around towards me and said, “Now Ms. M. You have to be quiet. If you want to speak you have to raise your hand”. I was positively amazed at how professional Kenneth was at playing the teacher role. But I had to keep up my ruse so I said, “Okay teacher”. Then, just like Kenneth would do, a few minutes later I raised my hand, and without waiting to be called on I blurted out, “Kenneth I have a question!” Again Kenneth turned around and said, “Ms. M. You have to wait for me to call on you”. “Okay teacher” I said. But a few moments later, just as Kenneth would do, I interrupted his lesson, yet again and so on and so forth.
A little while later I dismissed the class. Then, I asked Kenneth, “How did you like your first day as teacher?” He smiled a sheepish smile and said, “It was hard since you were always interrupting me.” I nodded and said, “Now you know how your teachers feel when you interrupt them”. Kenneth got to experience what it was like to have to put up with his own behavior. Soon after Kenneth no longer disrupted his class or my class. Instead, if he desired to say something he raised his hand and waited to be called upon.
THE AGGRESSIVE BULLY
The aggressive bully is the child bully who displays bullying behavior in order to express hostility. The purpose of meaningful reward incentives for the aggressive bully is to help him reform by having him engage in creative hands on activities that interest him. Creative outlets will help the aggressive bully develop communication skills so that he can channel his destructive aggression into the constructive language of creative expression that will build his self confidence by giving him opportunities to communicate his needs and wants in a positive way to others.
The aggressive bully will be given positive reinforcement as a reward for eliminating hostile bullying behavior.
There are many modalities of communication. There is verbal communication, which consists of the usage of one’s voice to relay both thought and feelings by way of sound. There is also non verbal communication which consists of the usage of facial expressions and body language to convey thoughts and feelings by way of images. There are many creative channels by which to communicate. There is art, music, drama, dance, and writing modalities for instance. Also one can tell a story through a song, or a poem, for example. For the purpose of simplicity I will refer to the word “art” to represent all possible subject areas that can teach communication skills in a creative way to the aggressive bully.
Positive incentives are to be given on a scaffolding basis to the aggressive bully. We take baby steps since we are working with children. Therefore, positive reinforcements will be given for low, moderate, and high levels of improvement in eliminating bully behavior. In addition, with each higher level of improvement towards bully reform, the child bully is to be given creative tasks that allow him to develop communication skills in front of larger and larger groups of people.
Positive incentives that will facilitate low levels of improvement in eliminating bullying behavior for the aggressive bully are:
The aggressive child bully will be given free time to participate in art assignments that he is interested in. His art projects will be displayed within the school, not for its excellence per se, but to give the aggressive child bully the opportunity to express himself to his peers in a constructive way. One example might be for the aggressive bully to read a poem that he wrote in front of his class.
Positive incentives that will facilitate moderate levels of improvement in eliminating bullying behavior for the aggressive bully are:
The aggressive child bully will be allowed to participate in group art projects that he is interested in that will be displayed within the community, not for its excellence per se, but to give the aggressive bully child the opportunity to express himself to his family and friends in a constructive way. One example might be for the aggressive bully to put on a play that he wrote that he has an acting part in before students, teachers, and parents within his neighborhood at the school auditorium.
Positive incentives that will facilitate high levels of improvement in eliminating bullying behavior for the aggressive bully are:
The aggressive child bully will be permitted to regularly attend art classes that he is interested in that will be displayed before the public, not for their excellence per se, but to give the aggressive bully the opportunity to express himself to others in a constructive way. One example might be, attending a magnet school that specializes in the performing arts so that he can have the opportunity to explore career possibilities within the entertainment industry.
Besides the use of negative and positive reinforcements to reform the bully child, the following real life scenario behavior modification approach is one example of how to change the bullying behavior of the aggressive bully child:
John looked like a high school kid. He had a muscular build and stood six feet tall. He was old enough to be in the ninth grade. But because he had been held back in school numerous times he was in sixth grade. John hung out with the wrong crowd. He was a bad boy and it was rumored that he was a member of an inter city gang. John went on a rampage if a teacher told him that he was wrong. He could be outright dangerous and so none of the teachers were willing to have any thing to do with John. And so he was sent to my Resource Specialist Program for behavioral intervention.
When John came to my class I sat him down and asked him, “Why do you get mad at your teachers and refuse to do your work?” , John told me, “It’s because I don’t like being told that I am wrong!” “Okay” I said. “If I never tell you that you are wrong will you do the work in my class and not get angry?” I asked. After a moment of silence John said, “Yes”. So our day began. I was giving a spelling test to my class that day. I instructed all of the students to write down the correct spelling of the words that I was going to give them. But for John I had a different instruction. “John" I said "I want you to spell all of the words that I am going to say out loud to you wrong”. Unsure if he had heard me correctly he asked me to repeat myself. I repeated my directions to him. After that he asked me in a shocked tone of voice, “You want me to spell them wrong?” “Yes. Every single word must be spelled wrong” I said. A befuddled expression befell John’s face. He shifted nervously in his seat. He then leaned over to the boy sitting next to him and whispered, “Did she say that she wanted me to spell all of the words wrong?” “Yes”, the other boy told him. I gave John the same ten words to misspell that I was giving the rest of the class to spell correctly. At the end of the spelling test I sat down next to John and we looked over his spelling paper together.
“John” I said “You did not follow my directions. You did not spell any of these words wrong.” He looked over at me nervously. Then, one word at a time I explained why. “This word is spelled only half wrong. “This word is only partially incorrect. And this word is barely wrong at all”, I told him. After that, I looked over at John and asked him, “Do you know why you failed to spell any of these words wrong?” Dumbfounded, he shook his head “no”. “Here, let me show you why. “Your brain must have remembered the rule for spelling this word because it spelled its ending completely right. “And this word you spelled most of it correctly because you sounded it out. “And you must have seen this word before because it has only one letter that does not belong to it. “You see. Look how smart you are John. “You were unable to spell the words wrong because you are too intelligent to.
After saying that to John, I asked John, “If I ask you to answer a question and you give me an answer that I am not looking for, is it okay with you if I tell you that you are partially right, or half right or mostly right, instead of wrong?” John looked at me a little frightened but with a grin on his face he said, “Yes”. I had conveyed to John in an innovative manner that there is no such thing as being completely wrong about anything. Hence, John will always be somewhat right about everything. After that, John was never ever again hostile towards any teacher who told him that he was wrong.
THE INADEQUATE BULLY
Through neglect, abuse, or overindulgence a child is taught to feel inadequate. Such insecurity manifests itself as an overwhelming FEAR of both failure and success. Thusly, the inadequate child bully will lie, cheat, and steal to overcompensate for his false belief that he is unworthy.
There are numerous things that the inadequate bully child may feel insecure about. He may be worried that he does not measure up physically. He is afraid that if he does not push other children around, his peers will perceive him as a weakling and push him around. Thusly, he compensates for his anxiety by picking on a child who is weaker and smaller than he is.
The inadequate bully child might also be concerned that he does not measure up emotionally. He is afraid that if he does not act cruel his peers will perceive him as being vulnerable and pick on him. And so he attempts to alleviate his anxiety by mocking a child who is handicapped or sick.
The inadequate bully child may also be agitated that he does not measure up mentally. He is afraid that if he does not criticize others his peers will not take him seriously. So, he makes an effort to cover up his anxiety by ridiculing whomever he thinks is stupider or smarter than he is.
Yet another thing the inadequate bully child might become bothered by is that he does not measure up spiritually. He is afraid that if he does not insist that everyone be like him his peers will believe that he is not likable. Thusly, he ostracizes anyone and/or any thing that is different than he.
The following real life scenario illustrates how to change the bullying behavior of the inadequate bully:
Bruce was a gifted child who happened to have Dyslexia. This meant that he had trouble tracking objects with his eyes, and so academic activities like reading was difficult for him. Bruce also had a violent temper. Once he lost it there was no turning back.
One day during P.E. while my class was playing handball, all of the children started laughing at Bruce because he kept missing the ball. Every time that he tried to hit the ball, he would either hit it into the wrong direction, or his hand would completely miss it altogether. Bullying that the other children were doing was caused Bruce to start displaying a temper tantrum. But before it was able to reach a volatile level, I stopped the game, and told the entire class that the next child who laughed at Bruce will go to the end of the line to wait for his turn. Then, I explained to the class and to Bruce that he kept missing the ball because his eyes had difficulty watching it when it moved. After that, I told Bruce to concentrate on keeping his eyes on the ball at all times. Then, aim his fist at the ball where he wanted the ball to go. Then, hit the ball while still watching it with his eyes. I also instructed the class in unison to clap for Bruce after he successfully hit the ball instead of laugh at him if he didn’t. That day Bruce learned that the reason why it was hard for him to hit the ball had nothing to do with him as a person and so he no longer got angry about it.
"I BE ME"
THE INTERMITTENT BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION EXPERIENCE
The inadequate child bully is obviously not getting from his significant others the guidance and love that he must have in order to be the person that he is meant to be. The educational system has surely failed him also. If he has trouble learning by the time he gets any intervention for his learning difficulties he has already experienced failure more than any child has a right to. Having given up on himself, he is afraid of both failure and success. A specialized behavior modification program will help him reform. And there is no better time to start him on one than when he is still an impressionable youngster. I developed what I call the Intermittent Behavior Modification Experience or I.B.M.E. (I Be Me). It offers a fail-safe learning environment for the inadequate child bully. It shows him that he no longer has to fail for success is no longer a risky process.
The I.B.M.E. method requires an adult such as a teacher or parent to make a personalized contract with the inadequate child bully. The contract is a cooperative effort. Therefore, before it can be drawn up the teacher or parent must have a one on one interview with the child. The purpose of the interview is for both the teacher or parent and the child to decide and agree upon what will be in the I.B.M.E. contract. By asking the student what his interests and hobbies are, and by discussing with the child what disruptive behaviors he has to stop, the teacher or parent will be able to assess what undesirable behaviors and meaningful reward incentives will be in the I.B.M. E. contract.
At the start of the program, the I.B.M.E. contract will have the number of undesirable behaviors and reward incentives within it that are age appropriate. When working with the inadequate child bully age appropriate refers to stage of development. That means that it does not matter how physiologically old the child is. What does matter is how psychologically old the child is.
As a for instance, if the inadequate child bully is stage developmentally K-3rd grade then start the I.B.M.E. contract with only one undesirable bully behavior to work on. If the inadequate child bully is stage developmentally 3-6th grade then start the I.B.M.E. contract with two undesirable bully behaviors to uproot, and so on and so forth. No matter what age the playground bully is maturity wise do not exceed four undesirable behaviors to rectify at one time. You do not want to overwhelm the child.
Though the teacher or parent must pay attention to stage versus age level of appropriateness, were behavior modification is concerned, the must important thing to keep in mind is to base how many undesirable behaviors BOTH you and the inadequate child bully AGREE to correct. Some children may not be able to handle trying to change the amount of undesirable behaviors that are deemed stage level appropriate or that they desire to alter, so use discretion. If this happens begin by modifying one inappropriate behavior at a time.
MEANINGFUL REWARD INCENTIVES FOR THE I.B.M.E. CONTRACT
Meaningful reward incentives that are to be given to the inadequate child bully come in three basic categories: They are privileges, praises, and tangibles. Examples of privileges are: being allowed to have free time to do whatever the inadequate child bully wishes, go to a fun event such as a sports game, use an interesting piece of equipment such as a computer, perform a desirable task such as a job that assumes a leadership role, perform a creative outlet project, or engage in an exciting lesson of instruction. Examples of praises are: letting the inadequate child bully know when he is doing a positive behavior and what exactly he is doing that is worthy of approval. Be specific, such as “I like the way so and so is quietly sitting at his desk and keeping his eyes on the blackboard. Examples of tangibles are: positive reinforcements such as stickers, toys, games, books, money, food, etc.
Meaningful reward incentives, besides being stage versus age development appropriate, must also be safe, socially acceptable, and not too expensive. For example I had an inadequate child bully in my class one year who was 12 years of age. He was supposed to be in seventh grade but he acted like an 8 year old third grader. He loved the sport of skateboarding. Thusly, what he desired for his meaningful reward incentive was a skateboard magazine. When I went to buy one it was full of adulterated vocabulary – profane language. So I modified it by whiting out all of the vulgar words.
BULLYING BEHAVIORS IN THE I.B.M.E. CONTRACT
The focus of the I.B.M.E. Contract is for bullying behavior to be eradicated. Be sure that you know what bullying behavior is before you begin the I.B.M.E. Contract with the inadequate child bully. Some examples of bullying behaviors are throwing things at people, destroying property, hitting, kicking, spitting, biting, shouting cursing, and making fun of others. Bullying behaviors are to be replaced with creative forms of communication skills so that the inadequate child bully can get his wants/needs met and/or positive approval so that the inadequate child bully no longer seeks negative attention.
The negative antisocial behavior that you ask the inadequate child bully to seize from doing must be replaced a positive socially acceptable behavior. To do this first, let the inadequate child bully know immediately that he is performing a bullying behavior. For instance say, “You are talking while I am talking”. Second, right away introduce to the inadequate child bully what socially acceptable behavior he needs to do by role modeling - showing and telling it – so that he can mimic it. For instance, couple the bully behavior of speaking out of turn with the classroom etiquette of raising his hand and waiting to be called upon before he speaks. Third, after the inadequate child bully does the socially acceptable behavior praise him for it. For instance tell him, “I like the way you raised your hand and waited for me to call on you before you started speaking”. Finally, encourage the inadequate child bully to stop doing bullying behavior by giving him ample opportunity to eradicate it. For instance, to stop the bully child from talking out of turn, whenever he does raise his hand asking permission to speak, call upon him right away. As he improves, gradually delay his gratification by waiting longer and longer periods of time before calling upon him to speak. That way his new found socially acceptable behavior will be like what the other kids in mainstream regular class are doing.
RENEGOTIATING THE I.B.M.E. CONTRACT
Everything in the I.B.M.E. contract has to be agreed upon by both you and the inadequate child bully so be sure to discuss with him how many behaviors he thinks he can work on at one time. If later he cannot fulfill his obligation, then simply renegotiate the I.B.M.E. contract with him. The renegotiation process will also help the inadequate child bully learn what his own limits are. This is a very important concept for him since being a bully he is already out of control.
If the inadequate child bully has only one bullying behavior that he has to modify but he is not changing it, re-evaluate the I.B.M.E. contract with him. It is possible that he may not be ready to stop that particular bullying behavior. Replace it with another bullying behavior that both you and he feel assured that he can deal with. Use your common sense and learn to tell the difference between the playground bully having too difficult of a challenge, being afraid of failure or success, or being unwilling to cooperate.
If he is afraid of failure or success remind him that it is up to him no one else when he will earn the meaningful reward incentive that he has chosen for himself within the I.B.M.E. contract. Be patient with him and he will eventually succeed. Being a child he will sense that you have faith and trust in him and so he will start to believe in him self also. If the playground bully is unwilling to follow through on the I.B.M.E. contract, you may need to reassess with him his meaningful reward incentives. Perhaps the ones he has picked for himself he does not like enough to do the necessary work to earn them. Discuss with him other meaningful reward incentive options that really inspire him. If he is being truthful with you about meaningful reward incentives he will do what he has to in order to receive them.
LENGTH OF THE I.B.M.E. CONTRACT
Within the I.B.M.E. contract the teacher or parent and the inadequate child bully must decide how often the inadequate child bully is to be rewarded for abstaining from doing his bullying behaviors. Is he to be given a meaningful reward incentive once an hour, once a day, once a week, or once a month? Again, this is to be decided based upon his stage - psychological age of development not his age – physical age of development. For instance, if the inadequate child bully is to receive a meaningful reward incentive once a week that means that for five school days he will abstain from doing bullying behaviors.
The must important thing to remember is that I.B.M.E. stands for Intermittent Behavior Modification Experience. This means that its behavior modification method is “intermittent’. Intermittent means alternately ending and beginning again. It is not time bound. This means that the inadequate child bully’s days of good behavior do not have to be consecutive – one following the other without interruption. They may instead be earned on an intermittent basis – alternately stopping and starting again depending upon the inadequate child bully’s decision as to when he is going to earn his next day of goodly behavior. Thusly, if he refrains from doing his undesirable behaviors by doing desirable behaviors for one day he earns one day towards his reward. And that one day will never be taken away from him no matter how long he chooses to take to earn his remaining four days of socially acceptable versus anti-social behavior. The inadequate child bully knows that he needs five days of good behavior as opposed to bad behavior to earn his prize. Therefore, it does not matter how much time it takes him to earn his remaining four days of appropriate instead of inappropriate behavior. All that matters is that he earns them. So just keep adding on the days of good behavior to his contract until he earns all five days of appropriate behavior.
In the event that the inadequate child bully, after earning a few good behavior days, becomes anxiety ridden that he is going to fail and resists fulfilling his I.B.M.E. contract by acting out bullying behaviors, remind him that however long he chooses to display his bad behavior he still gets to keep the good behavior days that he already earned, INDEFINITELY. Also remind him that whenever he is ready to resume earning the remaining good behavior days, the good behavior days that he has already earned will be added to them until all of the good behavior days needed to earn his reward have been earned. Because the inadequate child bully is allowed to learn at his OWN pace, he will eventually realizes that he is in CONTROL of his own learning, and so he will no longer be afraid of either failure or success.
After a period of continual success the time it will take for the inadequate child bully to earn his reward will be lengthened until the meaningful reward incentive is no longer necessary. For instance, if the inadequate bully child is able to repeatedly earn his reward in five days – one school week, try postponing his immediate gratification by having him earn his next reward in ten days – two school weeks. The lengthening of delaying of gratification, what I call the weaning process, will eventually make the inadequate bully child’s newly learned good behavior pattern become a permanent habit. In addition, it will instill within the inadequate bully child newly gained self-esteem, personal satisfaction over a job well done, which will supersede his desire to obtain a material trinket. Once the inadequate bully child replaces his negative bullying behavior with positive socialization and mannerisms his overall study habits will improve and he will be ready to be mainstreamed back into a regular classroom.
THE APPLICATION OF THE I.B.M.E. CONTRACT
The I.B.M.E. schedule of reinforcement is a fail safe method of learning since it teaches the inadequate bully child that if he never gives up on himself he will achieve academic success. It does this by making the inadequate bully child realize that it is entirely up to him, not up to others, if and when he will do what is required of him. Also since the I.B.M.E. schedule of reinforcement gives the inadequate child bully complete control over his own learning destiny, it enables the inadequate bully child to willingly be accountable for his own behavior. In addition, the I. B.M.E. schedule of reinforcement lets the inadequate child bully know that he can get the assistance that he needs so that he can get what he wants without having to resort to being a manipulating or intimidating bully. Finally, the I.B.M.E. schedule of reinforcement reminds the inadequate bully child that, “FAILURE IS ONLY DELAYED SUCCESS”.
The following is a real life scenario illustrating how the I.B.M.E. Contract works:
When I was introduced to David he was so emotionally disturbed that none of the other teachers in the entire school attempted to educate him. David was old enough to be a seventh grader but had flunked out of school so many times that he was currently in the fourth grade. On the first day that I had David in my Resource Specialist Program, the moment I tried to involve him in any learning activity, he slid his chair, while still sitting in it, across the room. Besides disrupting the students in my class, the horrible screeching noise that the chair made it left numerous permanent scratch marks all over the classroom floor. If I tried to get David to follow my teaching instructions, he would curse at me. Necessity is the mother of invention, so it was because of David that I developed the I.B.M.E. method of behavioral modification.
While I was trying to figure out what to do about David, as I was walking back to my class from lunch one day, I saw him riding a skateboard on the playground that he had brought to school, even though it was against school rules to do so. Although David was one unholy terror in the classroom, to my utter amazement this brazen faced kid kept falling off of his skateboard as he tried to perform the simplest of maneuvers on it. But watching him gave me an idea. Suddenly it dawn upon me that David was a scary kid because he had no self-confidence. This piece of information alarmed me, but it also made me feel compassion towards him.
So on day two of David attending my class, I asked him if he would have a chat with me. He actually lit up, thrilled, that anyone would pay any attention to him. Just about every educator at the school only had one concern about David, his lack of academic performance, and so viewed him as a lost cause. I started our conversation by asking David if he had any interests or hobbies. As I predicted he told me that he loved skateboards. I commented that I saw him riding one during lunchtime. Suddenly, as if he were a completely different child, David began to express with excitement his interest in the sport of skateboarding. Then, he lied to me that his parents took him to numerous skateboard competitions that he won all the time. I made no remark about his lies. Instead, I focused on what I could do to help him overcome his bullying behaviors.
I asked David if he would like to win a prize that had to do with skateboards. His eyes got big and round and he exclaimed, “Yes!” After that, I asked David if he would be willing to earn this prize by not doing the disruptive behaviors in my class and by doing his schoolwork, instead. He agreed that he would. I then asked David if he would help me decide which disruptive behaviors he was willing to stop doing and how long he was willing to stop doing them in order to win his prize. He nodded his head up and down. Finally, I asked David what prize he would like to win. He said, “A skateboard!” I told him that I could not afford to buy him one, but asked him if there was anything else that had to do with skateboarding that he would like to win? He then told me that he would like to win a skateboard magazine. I agreed that he could. And that was my very first I.B.M.E. Contract. I wrote it up after our discussion and both David and I signed it.
The I.B.M.E. Contract that both David and I signed in mutual agreement to its terms stated that David was willing to correct his undesirable behaviors for five days – one school week – to earn a skateboard magazine. The undesirable behaviors that David and I agreed that he would not do were 1) No sliding his chair across the room, instead he would sit in his chair at his desk and 2) No cursing at the teacher or other students, instead he would raise his hand and wait to be called upon to speak and 3) No idling during class time, instead he would do and complete his work assignment.
For the first three days David was a complete success. On the fourth day, however, he became very distraught. Instead of fulfilling his contract, he complained to me for the entire hour that his stomach hurt and asked permission to go see the school nurse. When I did not grant him permission, he simply left the room and went anyway. On the fifth day, David started complaining about a stomach ache again and got up to go to the nurse’s office without permission. So I pointed to his I.B.M.E. Contract and told him, “David, no matter how long you decide that you do not want to earn your fourth day towards your skateboard magazine, remember that you only need five days of good behavior to do so. That’s only two more days left that you have to earn it.” Then I added, “You already have earned three days of good behavior. They will never ever be taken away from you.” Then I pointed to three boxes of smiley faces in them representing the three days of good behavior that he had already earned, and then to the two empty boxes left in the pictorial chart of his I.B.M.E. Contract. With one foot already out the door, David slowly returned to his desk, sat down in his chair, completed his work assignment for the day, raised his hand to speak, and for the first time ever in my classroom said the words, “Please”, and “Thank you”, and “Ms. M.” David earned his fourth good behavior day, that day, and his fifth good behavior day the following day.
The fifth and final good behavior day, happened to be Monday when I presented to David his first completed I.B.M.E. Contract and his first meaningful reward incentive – one skateboard magazine. What happened next is why a teacher becomes a teacher. For the first time ever David smiled. But it wasn’t just a smile. It was a beacon of light that lit up his entire face from ear to shinning ear. I found myself taking a mental picture of it that I remember to this day. After that David blurted out a sweet resounding “Thank you” and then bounded out of my classroom. The following week David earned his second skateboard magazine within five days as well. It wasn’t long before David did so well with his behavior that he was able to return to his regular class where he did all of his schoolwork without displaying any more disruptive bullying behaviors.
If schools are genuinely interested in dealing with bullying then they are going to have to be able and willing. Schools will have to be ABLE to embrace the NO NONSENSE Approach to the bully-victim conflict by being WILLING to ask and to answer some very uncomfortable questions. Such as what are schools for? Are schools a place where ALL children grow up to be productive members of society? Or, are schools to be war zones that persecute the brightest and the most caring youngsters so that they can grow up to be underachievers, addicts, or not grow up at all having become a suicide or homicide statistic?
Defenders of the bully camp will argue that the playground bully being a child does not know any better. What a lame excuse! There is no better time than NOW to teach a child what it has to learn. The child bully innately knows the difference between right and wrong, but because of his improper upbringing, he has forgotten. So REMIND him! The child bully cannot be REASONED with since by nurture the only language he knows is VIOLENCE. There is only one way to instruct a child bully to stop being a bully and that is by way of EXPERIENCE. So give it to him!
Oh, how I love them,
the difficult pupils
of my teaching,
of my learning,
for they peer out of
still wise eyes,
humoring my efforts
to give them
By Elana Laham © 2013