Schools all across the country are making concerted efforts to deal with the very real issue of bulling. But are these efforts having an impact? Is your child less likely to be bullied today than he might have been five years ago? The experts are divided on the issue, and some recent research suggests that the answer could be no.
Earlier this week, we were driving by a local school. There, right next to the playground was a huge sign declaring the area to be a “No Bully Zone.” I’m not sure why the sign was there. Was it to discourage any bullying behavior, or was it a symbol of an accomplishment by the school stating that they had eliminated the problem? My guess is that it is the former, since bulling may in fact be on the increase and technology, such as texting, blogs and websites may make it easier than ever to intimidate and bully without being caught. They call it Cyber Bullying.”
Some schools are actually using technology to an advantage, with websites where a student or even a parent can report a bulling incident anonymously. Because it can be scary for a child to report when he is being bullied, this may be an effective strategy, but there is only a small amount of school districts that are doing this.
So what about all of the anti-bully programs in the schools? I think they can be effective at bringing the problem to light, but the truth is that these programs often become a requirement, a token effort or a quick fix. Once the talk or program is completed in many cases, the schools go no further to ensure that the programs were effective. The bullies may laugh at the talk, and the victims get a small window of assurance until the next time they are bullied. Very few programs that I have come across address those students who are neither victim nor bully. What should they do if they know of bullying but aren’t victims themselves?
I believe that Bully education can only work if there is a commitment not only from the school but also from the parents. Not only do bullies need to be taught to channel themselves in different ways (some kids caught in bully behavior say that they didn’t realize they were being bullies), but the victims need to be taught effective strategies to prevent and deal with being bullied. Some parents need to lose the attitude that kids need to learn how to defend themselves on their own. Furthermore, the adults need to take affective action when bullying does occur. This will strengthen the message that bulling is not tolerated and the adults care enough to rectify the issue.
What do you think?
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