Links, Page 61

Bullyproof Your Child for Life, by Joel Haber, Ph.D., with Jenna Glatzer (cont.)

“This is wishful thinking, and works only when you’re not dealing with a true bully. True bullies don’t have empathy—at least not for your child. They do not care that they’ve hurt your child’s feelings…in fact, that’s exactly what they want.” [Chapter 2, page 67]

Neither does he feel (again, quite correctly) that in most cases appealing to a bully’s parents will have much effect under the adage (that I also noted within one of my articles) that: “The acorn never falls far from the tree.”

Student bystanders remain silent in the face of bullying, even if they are sympathetic to the victim, for two reasons as Dr. Haber explains. Firstly, they are afraid to try to intervene because they fear losing social status and becoming targets themselves. Secondly, they view the victim as a sort of metaphorical lightening rod; i.e., “Thank God it’s not me." Part of his school bullying program is to attempt to instill within the typical school kid a sense of duty to resist aggression against other kids as not being acceptable. This emphasis on the role of the bystander within Dr. Haber’s program echoes the high degree of importance that John Halligan places upon the role of bystanders within his school lectures regarding his late son's case.

Once a parent becomes aware of a problem regarding school bullying, Dr. Haber presents (Chapter 4, pages 118-119) a series of steps parents can take to tackle the problem, from first to last resorts; ranging from working with a child to have him or her try to solve the problem himself or herself, to invoking the legal system, with seven suggested steps in-between. Working with a youngster to improve his or her social skills is one I advocate myself and suggest in my first article regarding Tourette’s Syndrome, which would be applicable to many youngsters who do not suffer from that affliction.

Removing a child from a school is not a remedy that Dr. Haber advises in most cases as such denies a child the opportunity to learn from the episode and improve his or her social skills, and it also often proves ineffectual as well. Dr. Haber observes that often such children seem to have a "neon sign" above their heads indicating that they are victims which bullies at another school will soon pick up upon. Of course, the same aspects of the youngster that rendered him or her a victim at the former school will remain with him or her, with the added onus of the child becoming the new kid at school.

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