Bullying: The Never-Ending Problem

Watch “The Bully Effect” and the transformation of one kid who was bullied at his old school:   http://www.cartoonnetwork.com/tv_shows/promotion_landing_page/stopbullying/index.html

Bullying is one of those issues that we can never take our sights off of because as soon as we neglect it, we enable bullies to take over.  Instead, as “The Bully Effect” suggests, we, the bystanders, must stand up and voice our opinions to the bullies. If their behavior is not viewed as “acceptable” (even passively in the form of silence), they will essentially have no motivation to bully.

“If the bystanders of the school would get involved, I guarantee you we can overpower any bully. Eventually we could create an army to where we could defeat anything and…. we can all change the world.” – Alex Libby

I think bullying is part of the natural search all people experience to find their place in the hierarchy of society. There are leaders and there are followers. Though not all leaders are forged in cruelty, history proves that many are. It’s based in a lack of empathy for other people. This is a personality trait that many are born with, and for many, many other people, must be fostered in them as children. I’ve done a lot of research recently into empathy training since getting interested in this discussion. Some was documented in one of my Teaching Thoughts posts last week about the 5th grade class. That teacher incorporated community-building activities like the morning meeting into her daily classroom procedures to foster friendships and build unions among the students in her classroom community. I have seen other training programs like this one where babies are used in elementary school to teach children empathy for young, defenseless babies. I’m sure there are others that use animals. It’s very interesting to me, and I definitely see how these strategies can reduce the tendency to bully. But it also leaves me with this one question:  Is it enough?

Do you think empathy training and direct bully training, as discussed in “The Bully Effect” are enough to eliminate or curb bullying? Let me know your thoughts on this very difficult issue.

If you’re interested in getting involved deeper, consider joining the Million T-Shirt March next year.

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