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October 21, 2012
CALGARY, AB, Oct. 21,2012/ Troy Media/ – Editor’s Note: Are you being bullied at home, work or school? Send your emails to Anne McTavish, Troy Media’s Conflict Coach, for advice on handling the situation.
ASK ANNE: My family moved this summer, and I’m at a new school. I get teased a lot. Kids make fun of my hair, my glasses, my clothes, the way I walk, everything. I’ve kept quiet, but can I call them names too?
A. I’m sorry you’re having a tough time. It’s hard to go to a new school.
If you call your attackers names, they’ll say, ‘See, I was right.’ When you’re bullied, don’t bully back. It’s a bad move.
Going to a new school is a change for you and also for the kids already at the school. Change triggers conflict. Maybe you remind them that changes happen to families, and that really scares them. So they say you’re different from them, as if that explains why your family moved and theirs won’t.
If there are clubs at school, join one that does things you like to do. Outside school, there are the Scouts, cadets, the Boys and Girls Clubs, sports leagues, and groups at your church, synagogue, temple or mosque. Having friends around and doing things you like to do will make it easier to ignore the teasing. It’s easier to make new friends when you have things in common. And you’ll have fun.
ASK ANNE: I was shoved into my locker at school, and nothing’s been done about it. I told my teacher, and she asked me for proof. What else can I do? Should I take pictures with my phone? Is that what she wants?
A. I think your teacher is watching too many Law & Order shows. While she’s not a policewoman or a lawyer, she can do more if she personally sees the bad behaviour than if she just hears about it from a student. As a teacher, she can still do something.
You and your parents should talk with the school principal because you were physically assaulted, and the principal needs to know about it. If nothing’s done within a week, take it to the school board.
Taking pictures with your phone gets into all kinds of thorny legal issues. Before you do that, you need to get clear advice and directions from a criminal defense lawyer who also works with privacy issues. Don’t take any pictures until you get an ‘all clear’ from that lawyer.
And whatever you do, don’t post pictures on the internet or vent your anger in a blog. That could get you into a lot of trouble. You were bullied; don’t bully back. It’s a really bad move.
One of the most effective things you can do is to make sure you are never alone, that there’s always someone around who is not friends with your attacker. Your attacker won’t want to attack you when others are around and if he does, there will be witnesses who can describe what happened.
When you’re bullied, don’t bully back. It’s a really bad move. As long you’re dealing with low grade verbal attacks, you can choose not to respond. But when the verbal attacks turn physical, you need to bring in some serious help. At school, that’s the principal and the school board. And you might also need to bring in a lawyer. Physical assaults are serious and need to be treated seriously.
Troy Media columnist Anne McTavish is a conflict coach and lawyer, and her website is http://www.FistFreeLanguage.com.
This column is FREE to use on your websites or in your publications. However, Troy Media, with a link to its web site, MUST be credited.
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