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May sound old fashioned, and certainly not politically correct, but does anyone ever think about the effect of dropping the pledge of allegiance, banning school prayer, and all the other insidious little ways we've made school so terribly sterile, and without a moral compass? Yes, this should certainly start at home, be a part of every child's upbringing, with parents involved and mindful, and kids respectful. But I remember kids who had it rough at home and saw school as a safe haven, when it was okay to discipline a child and give them a hug, w/o worries of a lawsuit or charges being filed. I wish my kids could've experienced more of that, though they're fortunate to live in a small town where many of these things still exist, where bullying and threats are not tolerated and are dealt w/swiftly. Kids also need a sense of self esteem and self worth so that they are not afraid to face down a bully or ask for help if they need. Just my take on things.
I believe all parties have responsibility; however, I believe an underused technique is teaching victims some responses that aren't sarcastic or retaliatory but which allow them to handle most situations with dignity and without adult intervention. Techniques such as: 1) Broken Record (repeating the same neutral response over and over again; i.e. "thanks for the information"), 2) Outcrazy the Crazies (i.e. "You're ugly!" "Really? I had no idea!" and walk away), 3) Agree and exaggerate ("My nose is big? You should have seen it when a bee stung it. It was as big as Texas!). Many times the episodes can be diffused before they turn into big, scary situations. I got a lot of ideas from the book, "Words will NEVER Hurt Me - Helping Kids Handle Teasing, Bullying and Putdowns" by Sally Northway Ogden.
Until we stop glorifying the act of violence in everything that we see in the movies, video games, cartoons, music videos, television shows, news reports and every other media, this problem will continue and only escalate. We have allowed violence against everyone and anything to be desensitized to the point that there is little conscience left in our children and adults who are raising them. Society must dictate a change in that philosophy to facilitate a change and reduce bullying.
"Administrators are afraid of the parents, the teachers are afraid of the administrators, and the students aren't afraid of anybody."
Cicero saw the coming of the end of Rome....We are seeing the end of America.
Although your intentions are admirable to accept the blame, it is everyone's responsibility from the students to the administrators and everyone in between. We have a social mentality that is counterproductive today as violence against individuals continues to escalate in video games, music, music videos, television shows, movies and cartoons. Until we address the bigger issues of violence in our media, the problem is not going away but will continue to increase.
It is not that bullying exists. It always has, but the violence of the pecking order is just immense, and worsening.
I am an 8th grade teacher, and there are many, many things that I overhear in my classroom that effect student learning and their emotional health. I think it's my responsibilty to address these things when they arise, with the students who are responsible. Because I have a relationship with these students, it is easy for me to approach them, talk to them, and help them understand what their actions are doing to others. I have the chance to help them see how kindness matters, and to influence their continued relationship and leadership of others. Teachers really are the heart of learning, we have so much more "power" than we often realize. It is important to go to work each day with this in mind and to remain a positive and guiding hand in our students' lives.
We need to take bullying in all forms more seriously. When a child states "I was only kidding!" and their parent doesn't view it as a problem it is often swept under the rug and the child on the receiving end is still a victim. I have seen parents of children with bullying behavior get upset when told about it and they bully the school and refuse to admit there may be a problem. "Kids will be kids" isn't an answer. Teachers need the support of admin. to make sure this doesn't happen. Teachers need to feel supported when bringing up potential issues related to bullying.
In both middle schools and high schools there need to be layered interventions for fostering appropriate social development. Of course the individuals that directly tormented the sophomore must be held accountable, but the overall environment needs to have structures built in that catch these sort of maladapted behaviors, both the bullying and the suicide. In addition to school counselors there need to be active peer intervention groups and adult counselors trained in adolescent mental health that are not necessarily coming from the academic community. Anti-suicide programs coupled with support groups for adolescents are mandatory in a culture that is overly pervaded by media messages that isolate and place unrealistic demands on developing youth.
I put a stop to it immediately when I know of incidents. However, in my experience, bullies are really sneaky and sly about their timing and their insults. It is only when kids tell me what is going on that I can do something to help them. And when they stick up for themselves and others, they are shouting to the world that it is not okay and that they are strong. And then they find out they are not alone.