A Child's Life at Peace: Rhonda Mercs Addresses Bullying in Schools

Image of hands holding stone with cross Rhonda Mercs, Director of the Urban Child Development Resource Center, had the opportunity to present a session titled “A Child’s Life at Peace” during the Archdiocese of Cincinnati Catholic Relief Services Conference held at the University of Dayton in March. The focus of the presentation was bullying. Rhonda provided information about how to identify bullying situations, how to intervene when such situations are present in the school setting, strategies for preventing bullying, and some interesting statistics that speak to the severity of this problem in our society.

Bullying is identified as the use of force, threat, or intimidation over others. Such behavior is repeated to the point of an imbalance of social or physical power between the victim and the bully. It can take many forms, such as physical, social, verbal, and even digital, over the Internet and through email. While it is not uncommon for families to move to another location or to transfer children to a different school when bullying becomes unbearable, there is no escape from cyber bullying.

How to Address Bullying in Schools

Many teachers are quite familiar with bullying in schools, but sometimes it can be a real challenge to identify students who take part in bullying activities. Sometimes these students perform in such a sneaky manner that they escape being noticed. As Rhonda shared, there are some helpful tips that teachers and all school staff can use when dealing with bullying in their schools:

  1. Implement school procedures: There must be a procedure in place to deal with students who bully, and the entire school staff must implement the same procedure.
  2. Set expectations: In the handbook and at parent meetings, expectations of students,  parents, and school staff must be clearly defined. It must be conveyed that there will be zero tolerance for bullying.
  3. Be aware: All school staff must be open-minded as to who the bully may be. Bullies come in all shapes and sizes.
  4. Teach a violence prevention program: Teaching students the skills needed to interact with others is very important.
  5. Teach and promote empathy: Teaching empathy is the key to success. If students are able to understand how those being bullied feel, they may be less likely to participate.

In order to successfully prevent bullying, everyone, including parents, needs to have the same expectations of appropriate behavior toward one another, and students must learn how to display empathy at home and school.

Are you doing your part to prevent bullying?