WASHINGTON, D.C. – August 21, 2012 – Over the next few weeks, roughly 79 million students will head back to schools around the nation, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. When the school year resumes, so too will the perpetual cycle of students missing days of school because they fear bullying. Each day, it is estimated that 160,000 students stay home from school to avoid being bullied.
“The first step in preventing bullying is to realize that we all share common traits and we all need to feel safe, accepted, and liked for who we are,” explains Peter J. Goodman, author of the book “We’re All Different But We’re All Kitty Cats.” “One of the main themes in my book is tolerance, because it is crucial, especially when we live in such a diverse world.”
In his first book of the series, “The First Day of School,” Goodman addresses the issue of bullying. Through a cast of cat characters, he helps children learn what bullying is, and what parents and classmates can do to help address it. Here are 5 tips for helping kids learn about bullying:
Prevention. The most important thing that can be done about bullying is to prevent it. Cats and kids alike should do their best to avoid engaging in any type of bullying behavior. This can be done by schools and communities making it a focus of their attention and creating an effective policy toward it. Students need to know that it is not acceptable, and that there will be consequences if it happens.
Discussions. The more children know about bullying, the better off they will be. Parents, as well as teachers and adults in the community, need to discuss the issue with them, so that they understand what it is, how to avoid it, why it’s not acceptable, and what to do if they encounter a bullying situation. Whether sitting around the cat’s lunch table or not, communication is key.
Examples. The Kitty Cats in the book help to set an example of how differences should be handled. Parents and teachers need to work on setting a positive example when it comes to bullying and dealing with their feelings. Some children may see bullying taking place from other adult figures in their lives, and they may begin to mimic those behaviors toward other children. Whether emotional, physical, or mental bullying, it is important that the adult role models find appropriate routes for dealing with their own emotions.
Tolerance. Cats come in many sizes, shapes, and colors, and they are accepting of one another. Parents can help children learn to be more accepting of others, including those who are different from them, by teaching tolerance. The more children learn about other cultures, and about respecting differences, the better able they will be to avoid having issues with it.
Get help. Even with the best preventative efforts, some bullying may take place. In the event that it happens, it is important for cats, and children, to know how to and where they can get help from. Whether seeking help from the school, a peer group, or an organization that can lend assistance, the help is there for the taking.
According to the National Institutes of Health, bullying takes place when someone repeatedly tries to harm someone that they believe is weaker. It can take multiple forms, including physical (e.g., hitting, kicking, pushing, etc.), verbal (e.g., threatening, teasing, etc.), and social (e.g., rumors, exclusion, etc.). In recent years, cyber-bullying has also become more widespread; this involves bullying through the use of electronic means, including online and through text messaging.
“Every child deserves to feel safe in school. We all need to work together to create a safe school environment where everyone feels valued and protected,” says Julie Hertzog, Director of PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center.
PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center has teamed up with dreamBig Press, publisher of the book “We’re All Different But We’re All Kitty Cats,” which released on August 1, 2012. The book will be used to help children learn to accept and appreciate differences and to help prevent bullying.
To help address the issue of bullying, many parents across the country are turning to books, plays, role playing, and prevention outreach groups. Parents will have more success in preventing and addressing bullying if they also include school administrators, as well as others in the community.
The book has been written for children in pre-kindergarten through the third grade. The earlier children learn about the importance of preventing bullying, the better. To learn more about the book series, or to purchase the volume that addresses bullying, visit www.kittycatsbook.com.