Learn more about “When Your Child Is Being Bullied” at www.solutionsforbullying.com.
Steamboat Springs Jacqui DiMarco said that after she was bullied as a child, she became more guarded. And after she helped her son cope with the effects of being bullied over the Internet by his fourth-grade classmates in suburban Chicago, the part-time Steamboat resident said she was determined to help other parents whose children were being harassed.
DiMarco published a book last month that she calls a manual for parents and educators looking for ways to prevent bullying in schools. She said that her research and her personal experience as a parent convinced her that there always are solutions available to those affected by bullying.
“What we learned when we wrote the book is that every bullying situation is different, and the solution is not always perfect, but you can make it better,” DiMarco said.
She and co-author Marie Newman said their children were bullied while attending grade school in suburban Chicago and that they struggled to find help at first. DiMarco and Newman spoke with school administrators, psychiatrists and parents as they wrote the guide that they said they wished existed when their children were being bullied.
“When it first started happening, it was almost like a panic situation,” DiMarco said. “I didn’t know where to go and who to talk to. I was bullied as a child, and I know what it can do and what kind of pain it causes.”
DiMarco said she was inspired to write the book after talking with other parents whose children also had been bullied. She said her research focused on improving follow-up conversations with teachers and principals about a bullying situation. Newman said they continue to work with parent groups and school districts to develop effective ways to address bullying.
“At the end of the day, we knew it was a tough topic, and a lot of people didn’t want to take it on, but we needed to step up,” Newman said.
DiMarco said research included in the book could be useful for parents of children in the Yampa Valley.
At Strawberry Park and Soda Creek elementary schools, bullying prevention is part of the curriculum. Strawberry Park Principal Celia Dunham said counselors teach students the benefits of positive social relationships and how to recognize the difference between social conflict and bullying.
“I feel like we’re very lucky in Steamboat that we have such a strong counseling program that helps kids build … the skills they need so they’re not unsure about what bullying is when it happens,” Dunham said.
She said as students become older, it sometimes becomes more difficult for students to tell teachers about bullying because they don’t want to tattle on and break the trust of their peers. She also said some fifth-grade students are starting use Facebook and use cell phones after school.
“We can’t monitor much of the cyber bullying that occurs outside the classroom, but we can tell something is wrong when bullied students come back to school,” she said. “They can’t learn if they’re upset.”
Hayden Secondary Schools Principal Gina Zabel said that district employees are aware of most bullying incidents that occur because of the school’s small size but that some incidents can go undetected.
“There are some things that kids don’t want to talk about and things we’ll never know about, especially with cyber bullying,” she said.
Zabel said Hayden School District offers resources and counselor-led programs for parents who would like to learn more about recognizing and preventing bullying.
To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com