It is true and incomprehensible that as teachers and education professionals that we miss our student’s signs that they are being bullied. Are our heads in the sand, are we too busy, are their grades and performance in school more important? Are the changes that subtle that we accept what is? Wouldn’t their parent have contacted you? Do we attribute some of the behaviors to parent neglect, parents too busy with their careers or to puberty, adolescence, stages in development?
We do all of these behaviors and rationalizations because it is painful to feel the hurt your student may be experiencing. Feeling pain and hurt is always resistible even when the people we teach every day and care about exhibit changes that may indicate they are suffering silently. It demands action on our part and this is often very uncomfortable especially for those who avoid confrontation at all costs. Teachers are just as guilty. And so we hope that it is only temporary and on their better days, we feel the relief and hope that somehow it all just disappeared. As teachers and parents, we have so many distractions both at school and at home. lCommunication emotionally is limited and we pick up less nuances and subtleties.
If you see those subtle changes, withdrawal from activities, less enthusiasm, less willingness to participate in your class, stop, observe and listen to their comments about what is going on around them. Their language will change. You will hear negative remarks, apathetic to school lessons and related activities, less talk with all around them. Don’t jump to conclusions, just monitor their everyday choices and words. Make inquiries around school, especially about playground and lunch hours. Ask to speak to lunch aides and bus drivers. Call home! Ask the same hard questions. Do not confront the student until you have all the information and have a plan of action. Get advice from school counselors and parents you know that you can trust. If you can manage it, speak to a professional in your district.
Please, do not let the bullying go on! The effects can be life-threatening and long lasting and certainly affect their quality of life. As teachers and education professionals, it is time to listen more, observe more and step up to the plate. You often Your student more than their parents do.