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Seven Steps To Stop Bullying

Because kids often don’t report bullying, Scout leaders need to look for “red flags” such as frequent absences, nervousness around certain other Scouts, and anger and resentment with no apparent cause. Physical signs such as cuts or bruises and avoiding group restrooms are also pos- sible signs. If you suspect bullying, investigate by talking individually to a suspected target and increasing adult supervision, especially of the sus- pected bully. When you know it’s happening:



THE TARGET FROM DANGER. Nip put- downs and hurtful teasing in the bud. Call a meeting to remind Scouts such behavior is unac- ceptable. Separating the bully from others may help, especially for physical bully- ing. Interview other Scouts if they wit- nessed the bullying.



CALM TONE AND SAY THAT IT’S NOT O.K. That’s what former Scoutmaster Dallas Stout, now a professor of child and adoles- cent studies at Cal State Fullerton, did when he heard some older boys discuss hazing younger ones. “That is not only not cool, but it’s not happening,” he told them. Then let everyone know you’ll deal with the incident in private. That lets the bully save face


and increases his openness to your redirecting him.

ing that, “Bullies may appear big and strong, but emotionally they’re troubled,” suggests psychologist Barbara Sabbeth. “Often bullies act strong because inside they feel weak.” Make sure he knows there’s nothing wrong with him and that he can change behaviors to protect himself and not bring on the bullying.


HIS PARENTS, stress- ing that this act shows his strength, rather than his weakness. Parents should be understanding and discuss strategies for dealing with the issue.


BULLY and consider requiring them to accompany him to activities. Recognize





that they might get defensive, blame the target, or refuse to cooperate. Seek help from an expe- rienced source.

6 7


COUNCIL TO REVIEW THE INCIDENT and any other bullying they’ve noticed. The patrol leaders can brainstorm ways to prevent future bullying. Ask them, “What are we going to do about this?”


SERIOUS INCIDENTS OF BULLYING. Adult committee members can formally tell the bully Scout he must do his best to live up to the Scout Oath and Law if he’s to remain in the program (consult with your unit commissioner or district executive before dismissing a Scout from the troop). The committee can outline expectations and consequences.

the bullying controlled, Geier recalls, but the younger boys learned that standing up to a bully was “cool.” Bullying also can surface when an

untrained Scout intimidates younger boys with a “my way or the highway” form of leader- ship or when a well-intentioned leader makes a boy sing a silly song in front of the group to enforce discipline, says Ginger McClure, a Loudoun County, Va., school psychologist, former Scout leader, and member-at-large of the National Capital Area Council. It can also occur when a boy is on the Internet. Cyberbullying takes place when someone

harasses, threatens, or harms others online or with a cell phone. It includes spreading gossip or embarrassing pictures, repeatedly sending or forwarding mean or hateful text or e-mail mes- sages, name-calling, revealing someone else’s intimate personal information, or impersonat- ing someone else online and posting damaging words about them. According to UCLA psychology professor

Jaana Juvonen, more than 70 percent of kids who use the Internet regularly have experienced at least one incident of cyberbullying. And 90 percent of them don’t tell adults about these occurrences because they think they should deal with it themselves or because they worry that parents will restrict their Internet access. So what can you do to stop bullying before

it starts?

CREATE AN ANTI-BULLYING CULTURE. That means modeling mutual respect, kindness, and inclusion and never solving problems through aggression. “If kids see adults running the meeting or talking with other adults in an intimidating way and using yelling to control the group,” says McClure, “that’s what the kids are going to do.” Instead, model positive feedback. Statements such as, “You did a terrific job of cleaning up after the court of honor” or “I really appreciate that you remembered to bring a flashlight” will show Scouts how to connect constructively to one another. In addition to role modeling, leaders can

build an anti-bullying culture through discus- sions with the patrol leaders’ council, parents, and the troop, using the supplemental training unit (see sidebar on page 36).

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