Bullying in the Schools Will Not End Until We Change Our Pragmatic Strategies.

Marcos Karel Miranda Director of Educational Programs at Columbia Educational Designs

During OPB's Think Out Loud Program, a student from the Student Government at Grant High School in Portland, indicated that students are afraid to be alone in the locker rooms.. Further, the Principal Vivian Orlen shared that due to an incident involving the basketball team, the issue of hazing, bullying, and harassment has become a topic of conversation n and concern. Bullying has become an epidemic in Oregon! A surveyed conducted in 2009 by the Oregon Students of Color Coalition found that, “ 41% of eights graders in Oregon reported being subjected to name-calling, bullying or other embarrassment at school with the highest rates among the students of color, girls, and gays.” The problem come to the attention of the federal government, and President Barack Obama in a white house conference to deal with the phenomenon of bullying in the United States declared that, “ As parents and students, as teachers and members of the community, we can take steps—all of us-to help prevent bullying and create a climate in our schools in which all of our children can feel safe; a climate in which they all can feel like they belong.”
The phenomenon of bullying is a problem that has existed since the schools were created, and it is not going to improve from one day to another. Many solutions directed to prevent bullying focus in raising awareness, school policies and procedures, mediation, and short term training. These approaches are too pragmatic, and they don't work.
Research that from emerged from the Center of Behavioral Research from the University of Stavanger in Norway in the 1990s ad later from several Universities such as Clemson in the United States support that the best known solution to preventing and eradicating bullying is the whole-school approach. From this perspective there needs to be a systemic change where students, teachers, school management, parents create a plan with attainable objectives, and activities directed to achieve the reduction of bullying. Whole-school approach programs are about 12-18 months, and both human and financial resources are needed. The main objective is to create an environment where everyone is confident that bullying will not be tolerated and the creation of an emotional environment conducive to learning and the development of healthy relationships. On a 2009 report, Experts from UNICEF argued that positive emotional environments tend to increase academic performance. It is only when we decide as a society that education is a real priority, and we allocate the resources accordingly that issues such as bullying will disappear from our schools.

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Montessori 4-6th grade teacher

Thank you

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Mr. Hauck,

Thank you for providing searchable references for your claims.

The work you are citing is an article from a website hosted by a group which promotes the use of corporal punishment. It is not an example of research. Many of the studies cited within this article are either misinterpreted by the authors (see below) or seriously flawed. The experts who wrote it don't seem to be associated with much else besides that article and an association with the FRC (not exactly an unbiased source of information). If they were serious about engaging in debate on the subject, why wouldn't they submit their claims to a peer-reviewed journal, thereby engaging in the process of science?

I find it fascinating that the survey of pediatricians cited by these authors returned a result of 70% favoring the use of spanking, while the American Academy of Pediatrics lists these results for their recent survey:

Positions taken by members of the Academy:
Between 1997-OCT and 1998-MAR, the Academy conduced a mail survey to 1,629 active members, selected at random from their membership lists. They obtained a response rate of 62% which is unusually high for this type of survey. "The survey defined corporal punishment as 'the use of spanking as a form of discipline. It does not include hitting, beating or other actions that might be considered child abuse'." 5

Results were:

31.4% were completely opposed to the use of corporal punishment.
53.4% generally oppose corporal punishment, but feel that an occasional spanking under certain circumstances can be effective.
13.6% favor the limited use of corporal punishment.
1.5% were unsure.

When asked whether "Pediatricians must try to eliminate the practice of spanking as a form of discipline:"

50% agreed
30% disagreed
20% were unsure. 4

When asked about their methods of disciplining their own children:

35% used spanking as one form of discipline.
Fewer than 1% said that spanking was their most common disciplinary technique. 5

Another aspect of the article which you linked which surprised me was the citation of the Eron article to support the idea that spanking is effective even though it showed no correlation between the use of punishment in addressing aggressive behavior and later aggressive tendencies. If punishment were effective, we should expect to see an effect when it is used.

Some of the research cited by this article very clearly supports the idea that corporal punishment is unnecessary and potentially dangerous.
A direct quote from Eron (cited by the study referenced):

Certainly there are enough data, which Dr Hyman has assembled over 20 years, to warrant the measures he advocates to get the message out to the public as well as to concerned professionals, and to formulate public policy aimed at eliminating corporal punishment in our schools as well as all other settings, including the home.

Personal experience also does not constitute evidence in the traditional sense, reinforcing as it may be.

Even the latest research indicates that most parents report using spanking as part of their parenting repertoire. Does that prove that spanking is the culprit for the increase in disrespectful behavior you've observed?

Please bring on the links to the evidence you have seen concerning the efficacy of the use of corporal punishment. I am truly interested in evaluating the claims of those who advocate hitting children in the process of teaching them. A number of links from a variety of sources would be much more compelling than the "evidence" you continue to use to support your position.


Educator and School Counselor / Trinidad School District #1

This conversation has veered

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This conversation has veered from one about preventing bullying to a debate about corporal punishment. A few thoughts on both:

First, bullying tends to get worse in middle school. Spanking a thirteen year old borders on perverse, especially when the adult is not a relative and there has been no opportunity for a relationship of trust to develop prior to the punishment. I have seen one middle school student spanked by a principal in the 21st century. That student is now incarcerated. I was spanked by a gym teacher when I was in seventh grade. That teacher also approached me when I was half dressed in the locker room, stroked my hair, and started explaining how he didn't usually like long hair on boys (this was 1974 in Montana), but that my hair was "smooth and beautiful." I later vandalized the school, including launching a full classroom set of English texts out the third floor window into the mud.

Second, corporal punishment teaches students, especially older students, that the only people allowed to bully in the school are the adults. I was also relentlessly bullied in the junior high school even though students feared physical violence from the teachers and principal. I saw a girl have her head shoved in a trash can by a teacher, and a dope-smoking teen get dragged by his hair out of the bathroom by the vice-principal (the same V.P. that shook my hand and thanked me for beating up a ringleader of bullies). Oh, yes, those were the good old days.

Third, getting back to the issue of relationship. I have read that corporal punishment for younger students can be effective, but only if the child knows and trusts the person administering the punishment. Without that relationship of trust it serves to traumatize the child.

Fourth, does anyone really believe that children fear a spanking? Come on. When I was spanked (with a board) in junior high I don't even remember physical pain. What I remember is the humiliation (it was administered publicly in front of my entire class) and the strong desire to retaliate, just like the retaliation I inflicted upon the student who bullied me. Some educators already fear retaliation from disgruntled students. Start spanking teens in the 21st century and see how that works out for you.

Fifth, if Mr. Hauck and his siblings turned out alright, it is likely because the corporal punishment used in the home was done with a measure of consistency and in an atmosphere of caring. Imposing corporal punishment in school when the home environment is either laissez faire or abusive is a recipe for disaster.

Lastly, the good old days were not so great. Plenty of bullying happened then, but people didn't talk about it, boys were boys and were expected to man up, and like my experience, I had to learn to defend myself from the bullies in the school yard and in the teachers' lounge and principal's office. Yup, those were the good old days. I do believe social bullying with girls has increased, but I'm not sure there is data to support that. There is certainly plenty of media that encourage it, including tv/movies as well as social media that make it easier for cowards to bully from the sanctity of their bedrooms.

Yes, research has shown that whole school approaches like Olweus are most effective, and they do not need to include corporate punishment. Mr. Hauck is pining for a world that never really existed. Living in fear of physical and emotional violence from adults is no better than living in fear of physical and emotional violence from peers. Worse yet, corporal punishment teaches students that physical violence is an acceptable way to control people. It encourages a do-what-I-say-and-be-like-me-or-I'll-kick-your-ass culture.

How about the Golden Rule? A rule, by the way, that applies equally to children and adults.

P.S. The good old days, when we had corporal punishment and gay bashing was a socially acceptable sport. Just ask Mr. Romney.

Founder-Developer of Kids' Own Wisdom.

PREVENTING rather than responding is definitely essential.

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Let's provide kids, as early as 4 and 5 years of age, with the direct experience of how much they actually feel similarly about a wide spectrum of life situations. Bullying happens when one person treats another person like an object, totally separate from his or her self.... something that cannot happen when kids consistently experience the dissolution of the illusion of isolation with which they usually grow up. Minds and hearts spontaneously open up when the reality of the human bond is illuminated ... not because a teacher or a parent gave some arbitrary instructions, but because direct experience reveals all that is so naturally shared between all humans. Ask the right questions, let kids look inside themselves for the answers that work for everyone.

Middle/High Educator & Technologist from Portland, Oregon

Bullying an Issue but Corporal Punishment? No Thanks.

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I understand the frustration with bullying. These last two weeks I have had to deal with two major instances of cyber-bullying as well as the normal milieu that you expect to see in a virtual school. (Actually - this week I found myself knowing far more about student vs student abuse than I ever wanted to know). This frustration leads to strong responses but...I have some philosophical and other objections to corporal punishment that I think need to be reviewed.

--An abused child will see the corporal punishment scheme as proof that hitting someone weaker and smaller works.

--Kids get hurt. Even in the most controlled circumstances kids get hurt. Add the allowance for school-based corporal punishment and this is increased. Even killed. http://www.thaindian.com/newsportal/uncategorized/corporal-punishment-de...

--Minorities end up the recipients of corporal punishment over other groups. Also children with disabilities, poor children, and boys tend to be the recipients. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/98/4/818.short

--We do not legally sanction hitting in prisons, in the military, or in mental hospitals. While these things may occur they are not legal in any other institution besides schools. Also - a lot of the bullying that I have had to deal with is between high school students. I can't imagine anyone taking someone that age over their knee. There are more appropriate ways of dealing with this issue.

--Schools using corporal punishment have lower academic achievement: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0962184905800848

There are alternatives. Seriously. Simply talking with students and families in closed and then open forums has done a lot. Both those who bullied and those who were the target of attacks responded well and indicated improved school experience when the entire school and local community worked together. We emphasized positive behaviors, set realistic rules that are consistently enforced, teach all our students, have conferences and implement restrictions on student movement and interaction if needed (suspensions from certain events - etc).

I think the biggest mistakes made by schools and teachers when dealing with issues of bullying in my opinion relates to NOT developing a method for transparency. Often students and parents do not see the results of intervention. It is hugely important that we involve students and take a team approach to handling these issues - involve parents, staff, and community members!

sixth grade physical science waimea canyon middle school on Kauai HI

corporal punishment was never

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corporal punishment was never done well!!!!!!!

Retired Health Ed Teacher certified in Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy

Mental and Emotional Self-Defense

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Most approaches to bullying prevention are what I call outside-in approaches. People try to get those doing the bullying to stop, often with little success. That's something we have to do. We have a professional, moral and ethical obligation to do everything we can to provide a safe environment for each student in which to grow. However, I like to take what I call an inside -out approach by teaching young people "tools" as part of what I call a "Mental and Emotional Tool Kit for Life". I actually teach a grad class for teachers called "Mental and Emotional Self-Defense against bullying" on how to teach young people these "tools" to help them protect themselves (for those times when we can't protect them) from bullying and other forms of abuse. The beauty of this approach though is that in teaching the "tools", you target the underlying causes of all those things that go wrong in and outside of classrooms, now and later in the lives of young people, that being what they think and feel, and then say and do because of that, in response to their life events.

I invite you to go to www.itsjustanevent.com to learn about the "tools"

middle school teacher

zero tolerance for bullying...

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I have been a classroom teacher for fifteen years, and I do not tolerate bullying in my classroom or on the playground. I take a proactive approach to bullying, and therefore need less of a reactive approach in my classroom. I always discuss the topic during the first days of school, along with the school rules and procedures. I have taught preschool through eighth grade, and I have addressed the topic in different ways for each grade level. I clearly explain what is, and what is not accepted. We also talk about how to react when a bully approaches you. Bullies have insecurities, jealousy, inner struggles... I tell the older kids that. Not sure if that is the right thing to do?!... but it has helped in my middle school classroom. We talk openly in my middle school classroom about dealing with "difficult" people. That is a life lesson everyone needs to know!

Teacher at Kiama High School In NSW Australia

Trouble is that teachers who

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Trouble is that teachers who hit kids are basically school sanctioned bullies. They provide a negative role model that encourages bullying not helps prevent it. Note that research is quite clear in indicating that those who are bullied, eg hit by adults, are more likely to become bullies themselves.

Teacher at Kiama High School In NSW Australia

In Australia, all schools are

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In Australia, all schools are required to have an anti-bullying policy in place. Something that includes clear systems for dealing with the problem. This is the only way to begin to change a culture where bullying is permitted. All Australian public schools have a stated zero tolerance to bullying stance. How well that is enforced depends on the school. My school has a teacher who deals with all reports of bullying, but it is up to every teacher to enforce that policy in their class room. I do and the kids know it.

Ret. Speech Therapist with Drama Cert.; taught drama in performg art center

Time and Money vs. On-the -Spot Discipline

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M. A. Hauck has hit the nail on the head! I call the wimpy parent mentality the "Rodney King Syndrome" NOT MY BABY! Such indulgence regarding children's behavior leads to whiny, entitled children and losers later in life. There is abuse and there is corporal punishment. Huge difference! When respect for authority went by the wayside so did the respect that students had for other students. Community/school involvement would be the best method but unfortunately the parents who need to come to PTA meetings or diagnostic team meetings for that matter don't. The ones who attend these meetings are the ones whose students generally don't have severe problems in school that endanger the emotional and physical health of other students. Also time and money are in very short supply and both are essential for the planning and success of these types of programs. Grants would have to be pursued I would think. Good luck to all of us who deal with this on a daily basis. The laxity of discipline is not serving the students in any way and especially when they have to figure out how to live in the world with others.

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