Mayor John Mahoney and Police Commissioner Dan Polk have announced new
measures promoting awareness and action on the issue of bullying.
Bullying is a community problem and we can work as a community (Parents,
Police, Schools and Students) to end bullying. The initiatives include
The B.A.T.L.E. program, an anti-bullying media campaign, partnering with
local schools and sharing research on bullying with parents. Mayor
Mahoney said, it is a call to remind us all of our respective
responsibilities, to reaffirm our desire to fight a phenomenon that some
will say has always existed, but which we will no longer tolerate. This
initiative confirms our obligation to fight bullying and to help the
kids who are victims, as well as the perpetrators of bullying.”
The planned media campaign begins this week, along with a guide
for parents and information on the Village of Palos Park website on how
to deal with bullying.
Police Commissioner Dan Polk emphasized, “Stopping it is
everyone’s job, Nine times out of 10, bullying happens in front of an
audience, whether it’s in person or on the Internet. If someone steps
in, two times out of three the bully stops. So it’s important not to be
silent. This campaign calls on students, parents and teachers to do
their part so that it ends.”
Palos Park Police Project B.A.T.L.E. – Bullying
Awareness through Law Enforcement.
- Bullying Awareness through Law Enforcement is a comprehensive and
community based approach to harassment, intimidation, and bullying.
Information for parents about bullying
Your child has always enjoyed learning, but lately seems eager to
avoid school. Stomach aches and mysterious illnesses pop up in the
evening and seem to get worse as the school bus creeps closer to your
street the next morning. It's possible the problem has nothing to do
with how last night's dinner was digested. Your child could be worried
sick over a schoolyard bully.
Bullies can take the fun out of school where bullying happens most
and turn something simple like a ride on the bus, stop at a locker, or
walk to the bathroom into a scary event that's anticipated with worry
Children who are bullied often experience low self-esteem and
depression, whereas those doing the bullying may go on to engage in more
destructive, antisocial behaviors as teens and adults. Bullies, who
often have been bullied themselves, may pick on others to feel powerful,
popular, important, or in control. Often, they antagonize the same
If your child is a victim of bullying, you can help reduce
intimidation and fear by listening and offering to help. If your child
is the bully, you'll need to emphasize that this kind of behavior is
unacceptable, as well as discuss why he or she might be doing it and how
to stop it.
The Different Ways Kids Bully
Bullying behavior isn't always easy to define. Where do you draw the
line between good-natured ribbing and bullying? Although teasing
resembles bullying because it can prompt feelings of anger or
embarrassment, teasing can be less hostile and done with humor, rather
than harm. Teasing often promotes an exchange between people rather than
a one-sided dose of intimidation.
Although the black eye is a concrete sign that your child may be a
victim of bullying, there are many different ways kids bully that aren't
always as easy to spot:
- Cyber bullying a relatively new
phenomenon began surfacing as modern communication technologies
advanced. Through email, instant messaging, Internet chat rooms, and
electronic gadgets like camera cell phones, cyber bullies forward
and spread hurtful images and/or messages. Bullies use this
technology to harass victims at all hours, in wide circles, at warp
- Emotional bullying can be more subtle
and can involve isolating or excluding a child from activities
(i.e., shunning the victim in the lunchroom or on school outings) or
spreading rumors. This kind of bullying
is especially common among girls. Physical bullying can
accompany verbal bullying and involves things like kicking, hitting,
biting, pinching, hair pulling, or threats of physical harm.
- Racist bullying preys on children
through racial slurs, offensive gestures, or making jokes about a
child's cultural traditions.
- Sexual bullying involves unwanted
physical contact or sexually abusive or inappropriate comments.
- Verbal bullying usually involves
name-calling, incessant mocking, and laughing at a child's expense.
Also, despite the common notion that
bullying is a problem mostly among boys, both boys and girls bully. But
boys and girls can vary in the ways they bully. Girls tend to inflict
pain on a psychological level. For example, they might ostracize victims
by freezing them out of the lunchroom seating arrangements, ignoring
them on the playground, or shunning them when slumber party invitations
are handed out.
Boys aren't as subtle and they can get physical. For example, boy
bullies are more apt to insult their victims on the playground than
ignore them. Instead of isolating a non-athletic victim during a gym
class dodge ball game, they might take relentless aim and target the
child throw after throw.
Why Kids Bully
there are many reasons why kids may become bullies. Bullies frequently
target people who are different. Then, they seek to exploit those
differences. They choose victims who they think are unlikely to
retaliate. That means children who are overweight, wear glasses, or have
obvious physical differences like big ears or severe acne are common
subjects for ridicule. But the differences don't have to be just
physical. Children who learn at a different pace or are anxious or
insecure can also be targets for bullies.
Bullies may also turn to this abusive behavior as a way of dealing
with a difficult situation at home, such as a divorce. Bullies might not
realize how hurtful their actions can be, but some know the pain
firsthand because they've been bullied or have been victims of abuse
themselves. Some bullies think their behavior is normal because they
come from families in which everyone regularly gets angry, shouts,
and/or calls names. They copy what they know. And just like the children
they're tormenting, bullies often have low self-esteem.
Whatever the cause, bullies usually pick on others as a way of
dealing with their own problems. Sometimes, they pick on kids because
they need a victim someone who seems emotionally or physically weaker to
try to gain acceptance and feel more important, popular, or in control.
Although some bullies are bigger or stronger than their victims, bullies
can come in all shapes and sizes.
Signs That a Child Is Being Bullied
Of course, bumps and bruises are telltale signs your child has been
physically bullied, but you can watch for other less obvious hints, too:
- inventing mysterious illnesses to avoid school
(for example, stomachaches, headaches, etc.)
- missing belongings or money
- sleeping problems
- poor concentration
- unexpected changes in routine
- problems with schoolwork
Being bullied can also have long-term consequences, affecting the way
children form relationships as adolescents and adults and even possibly
leading to more serious problems like substance abuse and depression. In
addition, bully victims are more likely to experience withdrawn behavior
such as anxiety and depression.
How to Help if Your Child Is Being Bullied
Being a good listener is one of the best ways to comfort your child.
Just talking about the problem and knowing you care can be helpful. Your
child is likely to feel vulnerable while discussing bullying and how it
makes him or her feel, so it's important to show your love and support.
If you find out that your child is being bullied, don't add to the
burden by becoming angry. Although it's understandable to be upset, be
careful not to let your child see that. Your sadness could be
misinterpreted as disappointment. Be sure to validate your child's
feelings don't minimize them.
You should also reassure your child that he or she isn't to blame.
Explain that bullies are often confused or unhappy people who don't feel
good about themselves.
Also consider asking your child thoughtful questions, such as:
- What's it like walking to the bus stop or home
- What's it like on the bus ride to and from
- What happens on the playground during recess
or before or after school?
- What happens in the hallways at school or
- Have any bullies in the neighborhood or at
school threatened anyone you know?
- Do some kids you know get emails, instant
messages, or text messages that are upsetting, threatening, or
This approach might make it easier for your child to talk about
bullies because it isn't as personal and emphasizes that other kids
experience bullying, too.
Artwork and drawings or puppets may prompt younger victims to talk
about bullies. Older children, however, may be helped by direct
questions, like asking them to talk about their "friends" and "enemies."
But telling your child what to actually do about bullying can be
another story. A national poll showed that 46% of the children surveyed
who said they've been bullied respond by fighting back, a solution that
can just make things worse. Boys in the poll were more likely to say
they would fight back than girls (53% of boys vs. 38% of girls);
whereas girls were more likely to say they
would talk to an adult than boys (32% of girls vs. 19% of boys).
The key to helping your child deal with bullying is to help him or
her regain a sense of dignity and recover damaged self-esteem. To help
ward off bullies, give your child these tips:
- Hold the anger. It's natural to want to
get really upset with a bully, but that's exactly the response the
bully is aiming for. Not only will getting angry or violent not
solve the problem, it will only make it worse. Bullies want to know
they have control over your child's emotions. Each time they get a
reaction from your child, it adds fuel to the bully's fire getting
angry just makes the bully feel more powerful.
- Never get physical or bully back.
Emphasize that your child should never use physical force (like
kicking, hitting, or pushing) to deal with a bully. Not only does
that show anger, but your child can never be sure what the bully
will do in response. Tell your child that it's best to hang out with
others, stay safe, and get help from an adult.
- Act brave, walk away, and ignore the bully.
Tell your child to look the bully in the eye and say something like,
"I want you to stop right now." Counsel your child to then walk away
and ignore any further taunts. Encourage your child to "walk tall"
and hold his or her head up high (using this type of body language
sends a message that your child isn't vulnerable). Bullies thrive on
the reaction they get, and by walking away, or ignoring hurtful
emails or instant messages, your child will be telling the bully
that he or she just doesn't care.
Tell an adult. If your
child is being bullied, emphasize that it's very important to tell an
adult. Teachers, principals, parents, and lunchroom personnel at school
can all help to stop it. Studies show that schools where principals
crack down on this type of behavior have less bullying.
- Talk about it. It may help your child
to talk to a guidance counselor, teacher, or friend anyone who can
give the support your child needs. Talking can be a good outlet for
the fears and frustrations that can build when your child is being
- Use the buddy system. Enlisting the
help of friends or a group may help both your child and others stand
up to bullies. The bully wants to be recognized and feel powerful,
after all, so a lot of bullying takes part in the presence of peers.
If the bully is picking on another child, tell your child to point
out to the bully that his or her behavior is unacceptable and is no
way to treat another person. This can work especially well in group
situations (i.e., when a member of your child's circle of friends
starts to pick on or shun another member). Tell your child to make a
plan to buddy up with a friend or two on the way to school, on the
bus, in the hallways, or at recess or lunch wherever your child
might meet the bully. When one person speaks out against a bully, it
gives others license to add their support and take a stand, too.
- Develop more friendships by joining social
organizations, clubs, or sports programs. Encourage regular play
or social visits with other children at your home. Being in a group
with other kids may help to build your child's self-esteem and give
your child a larger group of positive peers to spend time with and
If Your Child Is the Bully
learning your child is the bully can be shocking. But it's important to
remain calm and avoid becoming defensive, as that can make a bad
situation worse. You may have a greater impact if you express
disappointment not anger to your child.
Because bullying often stems from unhappiness or insecurity, try to
find out if something is bothering your child. Children who bully aren't
likely to confess to their behavior, but you'll need to try to get your
child to talk by asking some specific, hard-hitting questions, such as:
- How do you feel about yourself?
- How do you think things are going at school
and at home?
- Are you being bullied?
- Do you get along with other kids at school?
- How do you treat other children?
- What do you think about being considered a
- Why do you think you're bullying?
- What might help you to stop bullying?
To get to the bottom of why your child is hurting others, you may
also want to schedule an appointment to talk to your child's school
counselor or another mental health professional (your child's doctor
should be able to refer you to someone).
If you suspect that your child is a bully, it's important to address
the problem to try to mend your child's mean ways. After all, bullying
is violence, and it often leads to more antisocial and violent behavior
as the bully grows up. In fact, as many as
one out of four elementary school bullies have a criminal record by the
time they're 30. Some teen bullies also end up being rejected by
their peers and lose friendships as they grow older. Bullies may also
fail in school and may not have the career or relationship success that
other people enjoy.
Helping Your Child Stop Bullying
Although certainly not all bullying stems from family problems, it's a
good idea to examine the behavior and personal interactions your child
witnesses at home. If your child lives with taunting or name-calling
from a sibling or from you or another parent, it could be prompting
aggressive or hurtful behavior outside the home. What may seem like
innocent teasing at home may actually model bullying behaviors. Children
who are on the receiving end of it learn that bullying can translate
into control over children they perceive as weak.
Constant teasing whether it's at home or at school can also affect a
child's self-esteem. Children with low self-esteem can grow to feel
emotionally insecure. They can also end up blaming others for their own
shortcomings. Making others feel bad (bullying) can give them a sense of
Of course, there will be moments that warrant constructive criticism:
for example, "I counted on you to put out the trash and because you
forgot, we'll all have to put up with that stench in the garage for a
week." But take care not to let your words slip into criticizing the
person rather than the behavior: "You're so lazy. I bet you just pretend
to forget your chores so you don't have to get your hands dirty." Focus
on how the behavior is unacceptable, rather than the person.
Home should be a safe haven, where children aren't subjected to
uncomfortable, harsh criticism from family and loved ones.
In addition to maintaining a positive home atmosphere, there are a
number of ways you can encourage your child to give up bullying:
- Emphasize that bullying is a serious
problem. Make sure your child understands you will not
tolerate bullying and that bullying others will have consequences at
home. For example, if your child is cyber bullying, take away the
technologies he or she is using to torment others (i.e., computer,
cell phone to text message or send pictures). Or instruct your child
to use the Internet to research bullying and note strategies to
reduce the behavior. Other examples of disciplinary action include
restricting your child's curfew if the bullying and/or teasing occur
outside of the home; taking away privileges, but allowing the
opportunity to earn them back; and requiring your child to do
volunteer work to help those less fortunate.
- Teach your child to treat people who are
different with respect and kindness. Teach your child to
embrace, not ridicule, differences (i.e., race, religion,
appearance, special needs, gender, and economic status). Explain
that everyone has rights and feelings.
- Find out if your child's friends are also
bullying. If so, seek a group intervention through your child's
principal, school counselor, and/or teachers.
- Set limits. Stop any show of aggression
immediately and help your child find non-violent ways to react.
- Observe your child interacting with others
and praise appropriate behavior. Positive reinforcement is more
powerful than negative discipline.
- Talk with school staff and ask how they can
help your child change his or her bad behavior. Be sure to keep
in close contact with the staff.
- Set realistic goals and don't expect an
immediate change. As your child learns to modify behaviors,
offer assurances that you still love him or her it's the behavior
you don't like.
Getting Help for Both Bullies and Kids Being Bullied
A big part of helping your child is not being afraid to ask others for
assistance and advice. Whether your child is being bullied or is the one
doing the bullying, you may need to get outside help. In addition to
talking to your child's teachers, you may also want to take advantage of
school counseling services and consult your child's doctor, who may be
able to refer you to a mental health professional.
Bullying - Tips for Talking For Parents
Here are a few tips for setting the tone on bullying discussions with
- Initiate conversations with your kids
about their school day. Allow them to talk about the good and
not-so-good experiences that they have.
- Promote self-esteem and confidence by
reminding your child of his or her unique talents and qualities.
- Do a lot of listening as one way of
creating a trusting atmosphere between your child and you.
- Keep the lines of communication open.
- Questions for Discussion For Parents and
Teachers: Use some or all of these questions as a way to jumpstart
conversations about bullying.
Bullying and Cyberbullying
What's your definition of bullying? What are some examples of bullying
behavior, both physical and non-physical?
How can some kids use text messaging, social networks, and other
non-physical means to bully someone? Have you ever heard the term "cyberbullying"?
What does it mean? How do you think that cyberbullying might affect a
person who is its target?
What are some examples of aggressive behavior? Why do you think that
some people choose to behave aggressively as their way of dealing with
others? Do you think that this behavior can be changed? Explain.
Peer Pressure and Bystanders
Have you ever felt pressure to bully someone or to join in bullying with
others? What thoughts did you consider before you made the decision to
be part of the bullying or not to be part of it? How did you ultimately
How do you think someone feels when he or she is being bullied? Have you
ever seen someone being bullied? What, if anything, did you do?
Would you do anything differently if you are in that situation in the
What do you think the role of a bystander should be in a bullying
situation? As a bystander, what response are you most comfortable with?
Would you help someone who is the target of bullying behavior? If so,
how? If not, what would prevent you from helping? What do you think
might happen if no one helps the target of a bully?
Responding to Bullying
Have you ever been the target of bullying behavior? If so, how did it
make you feel? How did you respond? Do you think there were other ways
that you could have responded? Why did you choose the response that you
What is your personal plan of action if you are bullied or see someone
being bullied? Is there a staff member at school who will help you if
you want to report bullying behavior that you witness or experience? Who
else might you talk to about it?
Friendship and Respect
What are your thoughts on friendship? What is more important to you:
having a lot of friends or having a few good friends? How do you decide
who your friends are? How do you decide to treat others who are not
friends of yours?
How would you explain "respect"? Is it possible to respect a person but
not like that person? Do you think that respect for others is important?
Why or why not?
What could you do to set an example of respect? How might your respect
for others benefit you? How might an atmosphere of mutual respect impact
a class, a school and a community?
Tips for Parents
Safety on the Information Highway
As another school year approaches Palos Park Mayor John Mahoney and
Police Commissioner Dan Polk, both parents of pre- teens, remind parents
to be informed, be knowledgeable and vigilant about protecting your
children in the wide open world of cyberspace and social networking
The Internet is a great
place to hang out. It’s fun, and lets you keep in touch with friends and
family. Cyberspace is like a big city, with libraries, universities,
museums, places to have fun, and meet people from all walks of life.
Like any community, there are some people and places you ought to avoid
and others you should approach with caution.
Teens are more likely to explore
out-of-the-way nooks and crannies of cyberspace; and, sadly, they’re
more often preyed upon as victims by child molesters and other
exploiters. By knowing the dangers and how to avoid them, you can take
advantage of all the positive aspects of the Internet while avoiding
most of its pitfalls.
Parents, Note some 2008 Internet Safety
- 18% of youth MySpace pages
contain evidence of consumption of alcohol by minors
- 64% of teens post photos or
videos of themselves online, while more than half (58%) post
info about where they live.
- 32% of all teens and 43% of
teens active in social networking have been contacted online by
a complete stranger.
- 69% of teens regularly receive
personal messages online from people they don’t know and most of
them don’t tell a trusted adult about it
- 23% of children have had an
encounter with a stranger on the Internet, including 7% of
children who reported having met someone in the real world from
- 79% of sexual solicitation
incidents happened to youth while they were using their home
- 40% of solicitations began with
a solicitor communicating with a youth through an instant
message or IM
- 56% of solicitations contained a
request for the youth to send photographs of themselves to the
solicitor and 27% of solicitations contained a request for the
youth to send a sexual picture of themselves
Palos Park Police Department Reminds
You Be Smart Online Stay Safe in Cyberspace
It is fun, exciting and convenient to talk with others through the
Internet or your cell phone. But the fun can be wrecked if you don’t
follow safety rules. Experts say that about three-fourths of all kids
from 8 to 12 years old have the Internet at home. Safety rules may be
even more important there because school computers often have safety
tools built in.
Tips for staying safe
NEVER give out any personal
information, such as your address, phone number, or even the name
and location of your school.
Tell your parents or another trusted adult if anything online or
over your phone makes you uncomfortable.
If your parents need help, teach them how to do things online and
with other technology.
NEVER agree to meet someone you have met online unless your parents
will come along. Meet in a public place. Remember, people online or
on your phone may not be who they say they are.
Never send anyone your picture unless your parents say it is OK.
Do not put pictures of yourself on any Web sites.
Don’t put anything online that you wouldn’t want your grandmother or
a future boss to see.
Do not give out your Internet password to anyone, even your best
friends. The only people who should know it are you and your
parents. If friends pressure you to give them your password, say
your parents have told you not to do that.
Do not install any software or download any programs unless your
parents give permission.
Never do anything to hurt anyone else or to break the law.
More Cyberspace Safety Tips
- Never open attachments in an e-mail
if you are not sure who sent it.
- If your parents have set up
guidelines for what you do online or on your phone, follow those
rules. Talk to your parents about the rules to be sure you are clear
What is cyberbullying?
Have you ever been bullied? Unfortunately, almost everyone has had to
deal with a bully at some time.
Bullying is when someone uses any actions or words to try to scare,
embarrass or hurt someone.
Cyberbullying is when someone tries to hurt another person through
computer technology such as:
• instant messaging,
• chat rooms,
• social network sites such as MySpace or Facebook.
Cyberbullying can sometimes be even worse
than physical bullying. When cruel words or pictures get on the
Internet, they can reach thousands of people. They can be out there for
people to find for years. The victim could be hurt each time someone
forwards that message or builds on that message and sends it on.
What to do
NEVER write a mean message yourself. Do not say anything mean in a chat
room or when instant messaging. Once you say something, it’s out there
If you see a bullying message, report it. Tell your Internet service
provider, social networking site, phone company or other provider.
Report any bullying to an adult you trust: your parents, your teacher,
an aunt or uncle, a counselor or a police officer. If that person
doesn’t take care of the problem, keep reporting it to other trusted
adults until you find someone who can help
Protect Against Cyberbullying
If someone has bullied you before, do NOT open any new messages from
• You can delete any bullying
messages. But it might be a good idea to show your parents first.
They might want to show the police.
• If you see a bullying message about you or anyone else, don’t
forward it on.
• Never answer a bullying message. • Do not retaliate, or try to get
back at, the bully.
• Don’t write to anyone when you are angry. You may say something
you will regret later.
• Block any messages from someone who
makes you feel uncomfortable for any reason.
Parents think about some Facebook rules
for your children
1. They have to have you as a
”friend” on Facebook”
2 . Adhere to time limits,
3. Use privacy settings, no outside viewers
4. Always behave responsibly -- as in no trash talking,
cyberbullying, sexting, or chatting with strangers.
The bottom line is that there's a reason
that most adult social networking sites set 13 as their entry age.
Parents did you know
Provides practical tips from the federal government and the technology
industry to help you be on guard against internet fraud, secure your
computer, and protect your personal information.
The federal government and the technology industry have teamed up to
prepare straightforward, plain-language materials that you can use to
help computer users be on guard against internet fraud, secure their
computers, and protect their personal information. There are lots of
ways you can use these resources, whether through your work place,
community, friends, or even the media.
Here are just a few:
Created by Internet Solutions for Kids, is an effort to provide
resources for youth who have questions about or have been targeted by
The NetSmartz Workshop is an educational safety resource from the
National Center for Missing & Exploited Children that uses
age-appropriate, interactive activities to teach children of all ages
how to stay safer on the internet.