How to Help Bullied, Potentially Suicidal Students

 

classroom management blog

 

How to Help Bullied,
Potentially Suicidal Students

 


workshop trainer Ruth Herman WellsIt's been the top story in the news: bullied students committing suicide
because they can't cope with the bullying.

I'm educational workshop instructor Ruth Herman Wells, M.S. with ideas that can help right away.

Even veteran counselors and social workers worry they might not always notice every student who is so distressed that they might engage in serious self-harm, but the reality is that the front line of "first responders" is actually made up of educators, who may not have even have mental health expertise.

Further, many educators may have dozens and dozens of students they see each day. That glimpse into a young person's world may not be enough for a teacher to become aware that a student is in serious emotional distress. Especially as schools increase teacher-student ratios, effectively tracking emotionally fragile students becomes harder and harder for even the most dedicated, aware educator.

Despite the significant obstacles educators face when working with deeply troubled youngsters, none of us ever want to wonder if we did absolutely everything we could to spot and stop bullying, and the staggering consequences that can follow. It is a tough, new job to effectively help bullied students.

This issue of our magazine is designed to help you be as pro-active as possible to prevent a tragedy at your site, but by no means is  this short tutorial comprehensive, so if you suspect safety issues, tell your administrator immediately. In the meantime, you can strive to better equip yourself, your students, and your school to be a place where bullying and ensuing tragedies are less likely to happen. This article is a first step in that effort to help bullied students.

For more help, come to our Seattle or Portland Breakthrough Strategies to Teach and Counsel Troubled Youth Workshop (click).

Bad budget? We've got work-study slots if you need financial aid. Call 800.545.5736 for details.

You can also take the distance learning workshop (click), or schedule us to provide a professional development inservice at your site. We also have free online articles, tutorials, strategies and more throughout our site.
 

New Methods to Help Bullied Students Now
 

EDUCATE VICTIMS
AND POTENTIAL VICTIMS


poster for suicidal studentsA good place to start is by educating vulnerable students on how and when to ask for help from adults.

It may seem obvious to you that a child would seek aid, but to the child the bullying can just seem so overwhelming,
massive, and permanent, that the child can feel there is no useful help out there. The printable poster (Poster 248) makes a good visual that can be an on-going reminder.

The resource can also be used as a worksheet to start off a
discussion of issues like these: "Will adults know how to help? " and "What should you do if you feel so hopeless that you want to hurt yourself?"

Gear the discussion to fit the age of your students, but have the discussion right away. Suicides often seem to engender more suicides, and that is why you need to tackle this safety issue right away.

 

STOP USING INEFFECTIVE APPROACHES TO
CONTROL BULLIES


anti-bullying poster 90If only popularity was the best gauge of a method's
effectiveness. The truth is that many very popular methods that are commonly used to rein in bullies are incredibly ineffective and outdated.

Many bullies are not capable of developing a "normal" conscience and compassion, yet many bullying intervention methods– like character ed– rely on students having those traits, or being able to learn them. If you truly want to become more effective at controlling bullies, you must switch to more up-to-date
interventions that don't require a conscience or compassion in order to have impact.

Here's a few examples of strategies that don't rely on the bully being able to have or rapidly develop compassion. Ask the bully to make a list of all the activities that he wants to do in life, then have the youngster go through the list and cross out all the items that "go well" with bullying. For example, the student may list his desire to be a truck driver. Ask the student to consider if the trucking company boss or the truck dispatcher is going to want to want to take time to deal with a driver who bullies dispatchers, co-workers, customers, or superiors. If the student resists, have the student actually talk to a truck company boss or dispatcher, and ask. If the student says "But I won't bully on the job," challenge the student to prove it by stopping bullying now for
one month. If the student can't or won't stop, ask the student who else will help him learn how to be different by the time he's on the job.

Use the expression "Bully Today. Bully Tomorrow." Notice how all these techniques show the bully that by hurting others, she is hurting herself. It is critical that all the interventions you use with bullies contain that element. Bullies may never care about others, but they almost always care about "Me-Me-Me." Use that to reduce the bullying behavior by convincing the bully "I can't hurt others without hurting me." Our Poster #090 (shown above) is another good example of how the bully will only alter her behavior when she sees it's in her own interest to do so. To order this bully prevention poster for $8, click here.
 

WORK WITH BOTH BULLIES
AND BULLIED STUDENTS

Most schools tend to focus on the bully. While a focus on the bully is certainly essential, since it takes two for the situation to occur, it is as important to work with the victim as it is to work with the bully. If you fail to assist the victim to develop the skills, motivation, and attitude needed to avoid further victimization, you are failing to use half the tools you have available.

To leave all the accountability with the bully– who has a demonstrated record of not being trustworthy or compassionate– is unwise, potentially dangerous, and
inappropriate.

It is always critical that you upgrade the victim's skills to prevent and manage victimization. To not do so could be considered negligent. To upgrade the bullied student's skills, focus on spotting aggression before it starts, what to say or do to avoid victimization, where to go, where to never go, and so on. But the recent student suicides are a reminder that adults have to help victims cope. Learning to cope  emotionally may be as important– perhaps more important– than just learning bullying prevention and survival skills.

Create a worksheet entitled "The Consequences of My Actions." This intervention can be used effectively with both bullies and bullied students. Design the worksheet to have three columns. In Column 1, students list their Behaviors such as bullying or being bullied.

In Column 2 and 3, they list the Money Cost and the Pain Cost of those behaviors.

For bullies, the worksheet captures the consequences of bullying, and how those consequences can be so distasteful that it can make bullying less appealing. For bullied students, this worksheet can show what positive outcome can happen when these youngsters learn and use new skills to actively avoid bullying. This worksheet also shows bullied students how failing to take protective steps can predictably yield poor results.

The hallmark of depression is powerlessness. This worksheet can help bullied students feel that their actions can have impact and power. For bullied students, this worksheet can help convince them to learn and use new skills, while also helping to combat the feelings of powerlessness that lead to depression and potentially, to desperate behaviors.

If you prefer to order this worksheet, purchase our Coping Skills Sampler book here.

 

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    teachermissYou have students who struggle. We have solutions for students who struggle…so your job doesn’t have to be so difficult. We have cutting-edge strategies to manage group and classroom management problems like behavior disorders, trauma, disrespect, bullying, emotional issues, withdrawal, substance abuse, tardiness, cyberbullying, delinquency, work refusal, defiance, depression, Asperger’s, ADHD and more.

     

    Schedule the Breakthrough Strategies to Teach and Counsel Troubled Workshop to come to your site. This is the one professional development inservice that produces results, results, results. Call 1.800.545.5736 now. This surprisingly affordable inservice also makes a terrific fund raiser. College credit and 10 professional development clock hours are available. Your staff will finally have the more effective, real-world tools they need to work with today’s challenging, difficult youth.

     

    Contact us now, and begin solving your worst “kid problems” today. Call 1.800.545.5736, or email.

     

    Working with Troubled Students Doesn’t Have to be So Difficult
     


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    Library of Congress ISSN: 1526-9981 | Youth Change, Your Problem-Kid Problem-Solver
    http://www.youthchg.com | 1.503.982.4220 | 275 N. 3rd St; Woodburn, OR 97071
    © Copyright 2019, All Rights Reserved | Permission granted to forward magazine to others.


What You Need to Know About How to Prevent Bullying But Were Never Taught

 

teacher classroom management blog

 

What You Need to Know About How to Prevent Bullying
But Were Never Taught

 
 

 

teacher workshopGot bullies? We've got better strategies to prevent bullying.

This is author and workshop instructor Ruth Herman Wells, M.S. I've got some great tips and tools for you on how to prevent bullying in your school, agency or center.

In our professional development workshops, we always ask participants to identify the top cause of school shootings. Bullying is usually named. There is no doubt that bullying is a huge problem in nearly any setting where children and youth congregate, but you won't be able to stop or moderate bullying by focusing on that issue alone.

Yet, often that is what happens. When youth professionals focus solely or primarily on bullying, it may be a bit like seeing the forest but not the trees. Or, perhaps another analogy– one that might resonate especially well with mental health workers– is that a primary focus on bullying is a lot like just focusing on an alcoholic's liquor consumption while neglecting to address any factors that caused the excessive drinking in the first place.

Here is a completely different way of viewing and addressing bullying, one that you may find far more effective than conventional approaches that focus on the symptom of bullying while overlooking the factors that cause and sustain it. Read on to discover the real truth about how to prevent bullying.
 

The Truth About How to Prevent Bullying
 

MYTH

To address bullying, use character education or values clarification approaches.

TRUTH

While character education and values clarification approaches can have merit, as a reader of this internet magazine, hopefully you have learned that these methods always fail with about 11-14% of youngsters. Do you remember the information presented in past issues on this topic? If you have been to our workshop, you definitely should know the truth on this topic, because we devote hours to it during class. As any of our workshop past participants should be able to tell you, character ed and values clarification approaches always fail with conduct disordered youth.

These are the students we covered in Issues 2 and 3 of this magazine. As you may recall from those articles, these youngsters lack a conscience or remorse, so character ed and values clarification simply won't work since those methods require that the child be able to care and have compassion.

Since conduct disorders are the most misbehaved students of all, they are also often your bullies. Now, you know why conventional approaches may have limited success reducing bullying. To get better results, switch to methods designed to work with conduct disorders.

To review our introduction to click on the Blog link at the top of the page and choose the Introductory Issues.

 

MYTH

Bullying is the primary cause of school shootings.

TRUTH

The media loves simple, black and white explanations, and this very simplistic sound bite is just not a very accurate or thorough explanation. While some school shooters were partially motivated by being bullied, to zero in on just the bullying misses the point– and misses the point on how to prevent an incident.

A more accurate way of viewing these youngsters who shoot, is to note that they tend to be clinically depressed, and that in addition to the bullying that they may endure, they are very sad and extremely frustrated.

Better than viewing them as worn down by the bullying, it is far more accurate to view them as worn down by many things. Let me explain why this distinction is so important. This distinction is critical because it doesn't require an act of bullying to set this child off. Like a pressure cooker, this student is building up to blow.

Certainly bullying could be the thing that causes the blow up, but it could be any event that lights the fuse. When you train your attention on seriously depressed youth (who may be bullied a lot, irregularly, or not at all) you can more readily and precisely identify the youth who could some day explode.

Further, there may be other populations of youth who are statistically far more likely to cause an extremely violent incident. However, if three– not just one– types of youngsters are at highest risk of violence, that's a more complicated idea, a complex assertion that the popular media may never fully appreciate and disseminate.

Although you won't hear it in the media, the bullied child is probably not the youngster at highest risk of extreme violence. Want more than headlines? Check out our book, All the Best Answers Conduct Disorders and Anti-Social Youth. It is available as a book, ebook or online video class.

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Failing, Angry, Troubled and Defiant Students

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Classroom Management Problems STOP here

MYTH

When teaching bullying prevention, keep the focus on the bullying.


TRUTH

poster to prevent bullyingWhile it is fine to focus directly on the bullying, if you stop there, you may be unhappy with the results. To stick with the analogy used earlier, it is like focusing on the amount of liquor consumed rather than helping the alcoholic to understand why he drinks excessively.

In addition to  teaching that bullying is wrong, there needs to be a greater focus on teaching the skills youngsters need to behave differently. Further, you need to modify the skills of not just the bully, but also the victims and peers.

Typically, we do not necessarily provide specific skill instruction to all three of those groups. The bully needs training to learn new peer interaction skills, but so do the victims and bystanders. If you focus solely on one or two of those groups, you may not get the results you sought.

Remember, teaching skills does not mean re-stating expectations or rules. Teaching skills means that you creatively and effectively show students the exact skills that they need to be different. So, for example, you might teach the bully some new "Opening Lines" to use when initiating peer contact, perhaps aiding the youngster to stop threatening, and instead say something less aggressive.

Here are other key areas that are often not taught as part of bullying prevention programs: personal space and distance, interacting with peers who are different, managing hands and other body parts, and how to avoid peer set-ups.

There are many more critical skill areas that often are overlooked and left unaddressed, including motivating bullies to stop bullying. All unaddressed areas will be an endless source of bullying problems so be sure you cover it all. Skill training doesn't have to be boring.

For example, to motivate bullies to be different, you can use inovative, humorous interventions like our popular bullying prevention posters (click.) Poster #100 is shown above.

  •  


    Reprint or Repost This Article
     

    Bring the Breakthrough Strategies Workshop to Your Site

    Help Unmotivated, Failing, Troubled and Unmanageable Students

    teachermissYou have students who struggle. We have solutions for students who struggle…so your job doesn’t have to be so difficult. We have cutting-edge strategies to manage group and classroom management problems like behavior disorders, trauma, disrespect, bullying, emotional issues, withdrawal, substance abuse, tardiness, cyberbullying, delinquency, work refusal, defiance, depression, Asperger’s, ADHD and more.

     

    Schedule the Breakthrough Strategies to Teach and Counsel Troubled Workshop to come to your site. This is the one professional development inservice that produces results, results, results. Call 1.800.545.5736 now. This surprisingly affordable inservice also makes a terrific fund raiser. College credit and 10 professional development clock hours are available. Your staff will finally have the more effective, real-world tools they need to work with today’s challenging, difficult youth.

     

    Contact us now, and begin solving your worst “kid problems” today. Call 1.800.545.5736, or email.

     

    Working with Troubled Students Doesn’t Have to be So Difficult
     


    Behavior & Classroom Management Problem-Solver Blog Articles

    Subscribe Unsubscribe/Change Subscription
    Contact Us*  *Not for Unsubscribing
     

    Library of Congress ISSN: 1526-9981 | Youth Change, Your Problem-Kid Problem-Solver
    http://www.youthchg.com | 1.503.982.4220 | 275 N. 3rd St; Woodburn, OR 97071
    © Copyright 2019, All Rights Reserved | Permission granted to forward magazine to others.