Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Columns

June 4, 2013

MARK HEINIG: How to understand, discourage bullies

— When Gov. Mike Pence signed House Enrolled Act 1423, increasing the anti-bullying requirements for Indiana school corporations, he helped educators in their continuing struggle to protect our kids from schoolhouse bullies. This new law directs school corporations to establish programs to discourage bullies and teach school personnel how to deal with them. It also mandates school corporations to collect bullying data to include in their yearly performance reports.

You can bet the data will show that bullying is still happening — year after year! Don’t get me wrong. I often criticize our leaders for messing up the schools, but this is good legislation. It can’t eliminate bullying, but it will help.

Nobody likes a bully — including the bully! It doesn’t take a psychologist or a counselor to figure that out. The kids who pick on other kids are socially insecure. They try to compensate for their own inadequacies — whether real or imagined — by intimidating fellow students. They seek to frighten their victims into doing what they want. If they succeed, they prefer it to be in public, so other kids can see how tough they are.

Whenever possible, bullied kids shouldn’t fight their tormentors. They usually have a characteristic that makes bullies consider them easy prey. I was a kid with very poor vision until a new surgical procedure corrected it. Until then, I contended with a bully who knew I was nearly defenseless without my eyeglasses. Not fighting him was safer and smarter. It wasn’t cowardice; it was common sense.

My real friends understood that. Bystanders might not speak out, but they usually favor the victim. Some have suffered from bullies themselves or fear they may in the future. Eventually, peer pressure or school authorities will probably restrain the bully.

Nevertheless, some victims choose to stand up to the bully. A challenged bully has only two alternatives — fight or back down! Most bullies won’t fight unless they think they can win. Losing doesn’t fit the “tough kid” image they seek. Backing down may appeal to them, if they can do it without losing face.

Bullies hate to lose face. It can make them even more socially insecure than they already are. Bullies who expect to win may fight, but what if they lose? Then they must stop their bullying or intensify it. It is crucial for educators, parents and other adults to watch discredited bullies closely. Preventing a fight is easier than breaking it up!

How should the bullied kid who doesn’t fight respond? Very cautiously, but not alone! I always urged them to notify the school authorities. As a principal, I insisted that my staff tell me as soon as possible. I personally spoke with the accuser, the alleged bully and any students or staff members who witnessed the incident. I also contacted the parents or guardians of both students.

Sometimes the bully stops bothering the victim after the staff and parents have been alerted, but not always. I advise victims to try to avoid being alone until the problem is solved, especially if there is little or no supervision. When going to and from school or extracurricular events, strength in numbers may help. The school has the authority to enforce its rules at those times, but it’s difficult to do so.

Some parents can’t believe their child bullies others. It’s a very serious charge. In Indiana, parents of a public school student facing expulsion may demand a due process hearing, and they frequently do. They may also appeal the hearing officer’s recommendation to the superintendent, then to the school board and eventually the courts. Although each of these due process procedures is necessary, they seldom resolve a bullying issue.

I believe that student misbehavior can be an opportunity to learn. When disciplinary action is necessary, it should teach the child something constructive. If HEA 1423 helps some schoolhouse bullies to make better choices, it will serve its purpose. No law or school rule will ever eliminate all bullying, but when the General Assembly passed this one, and Gov. Pence signed it, state government did its duty well.

Mark Heinig Jr. of Kokomo is a retired Indiana principal and teacher, and frequent contributor to the Kokomo Tribune. Contact him at markjr1708@gmail.com.   

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Columns
  • DAN COATS: New Harmony marks its 200th anniversary Situated between St. Louis and Louisville, New Harmony is a small town in southwest Indiana smaller than 1 square mile in area. Fewer than 1,000 Hoosiers call this serene Posey County community home.Despite its size, the town has monumental significa

    July 31, 2014

  • Rob Burgess House of Burgess: Let's put lethal injection to sleep

    It was only a matter of time before this happened again; and I’m sad to say I’m not surprised at all.
    On July 22, the Supreme Court gave the go-ahead for the killing of Arizona death row inmate James R. Wood III, who had filed suit requesting a delay until the state revealed the details of the drugs that would be used to end his life.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • ANDREA NEAL: Fleeting canal era had lasting impact on state Editor’s note: This is one in a series of essays leading up to the celebration of the Indiana Bicentennial in December 2016. In 1825, the Erie Canal was completed to great fanfare. Cannon fire, parades, balls and speeches celebrated the speed and ski

    July 30, 2014

  • TOM LoBIANCO: Pence, Bayh crowd field with questions In the 2016 political landscape, a pair of the state's political big dogs -- Republican Gov. Mike Pence and former Democratic U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh -- have potential candidates holding their breath and waiting on them. Until Pence says otherwise, he's

    July 29, 2014

  • JEFFREY McCALL: All things Hillary are not news, just distractions This column has nothing to do with who should or will win the presidential election in 2016. It has nothing to do with partisan politics of any flavor. This column does, however, assess how television is oversaturating the "news" agenda with countles

    July 29, 2014

  • BRIAN HOWEY: World is rising up to meet Putin's thuggery Any illusions I had about the progressive nature of Vladimir Putin’s Russian regime quickly dissipated when I returned to my Moscow Grand Marriott room in August 2007. Upon opening the door, I was greeted with the spectacle of my papers and note pads

    July 28, 2014

  • DICK WOLFSIE: A trip to end all trips My wife is planning a very exciting vacation to celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary. This was a big surprise to me. Not the vacation part, but the 35 years. I thought it was 34. Right now she is on the back porch, the patio table stacked high with

    July 28, 2014

  • ED VASICEK: Happy marriages do not just happen My wife, Marylu, and I met through a mutual friend. My wife had been involved with Campus Crusade at her university, where my friend, Norman, also attended. One Christmas break, Norman invited his friends from church (including me) to a party — along

    July 27, 2014

  • MICHAEL HICKS: Truth about inflation Almost nothing in economics seems to confuse people as much as monetary inflation. That confusion leaves an intellectual void into which some of the least credible ideas of the modern world crawl.Goods and services typically have a price dictated in

    July 27, 2014

  • RAY DAY: Some laws will do us in In my opinion, we have made laws that are contrary to what they were intended. And this writer is going to let you in on his thoughts about them. One of the things that has been processed incorrectly is the child abuse law. When you tell the parent h

    July 26, 2014

Latest news
Featured Ads
Only on our website
AP Video
Renewed Violence Taking Toll on Gaza Residents 2 Americans Detained in North Korea Seek Help US Employers Add 209K Jobs, Rate 6.2 Pct House GOP Optimistic About New Border Bill Gaza Truce Unravels; Israel, Hamas Trade Blame Raw: Tunisia Closes Borders With Libya Four Rescued From Crashed Plane Couple Channel Grief Into Soldiers' Retreat WWI Aviation Still Alive at Aerodrome in NY Raw: Rescuers at Taiwan Explosion Scene Raw: Woman Who Faced Death Over Faith in N.H. Clinton Before 9-11: Could Have Killed Bin Laden Netanyahu Vows to Destroy Hamas Tunnels Obama Slams Republicans Over Lawsuit House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Obituaries
Poll
Kelly Lafferty's video on Tom Miller