|No Bullying sign - School in Racine, WI (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
First and foremost is the fact that we call many things bullying that really do not qualify as such. Boyd's piece sums this up as follows:
"Not all meanness and cruelty is bullying: Bullying refers to repeated psychological, social and physical aggression propagated by those who are more physically or socially powerful. Addressing the role of power is critical to combating bullying. Different strategies are needed to curb other types of meanness and cruelty, but it’s also important not to overreact. Some forms of teasing, pranking and drama are perfectly healthy, even if they look troublesome from the outside."The piece also touches upon an important point from my post early in the week surrounding the fact that we need to ask ourselves why someone is a bully. Students (or adults) who bully are usually dealing with their own issues. In addition, it also hits a sensitive area that we are unwilling to discuss following the tragic suicide of an individual who was being victimized by a bully.
"All too often, mental-health issues, struggles to fit in, parental pressure and a culture of intolerance create a deadly combination. Rather than looking for people to blame, it’s important to look for root causes and work to address those. The blame game does little to stop the cycle of violence."Finally, the issue that we all need to talk about is the fact that this bullying culture is really a product of some larger societal issues. We need to have serious community discussions about respect and tolerance and how healthy adults go about dealing with differences of opinion. If we cannot agree with Boyd's concluding statement in the article then we do not really have a reason to be optimistic that we can make headway in creating healthier schools and communities for our children.
"...bullying is not just a youth problem. If we want to help young people, we need to put an end to adult meanness and cruelty and take responsibility for how we perpetuate problematic values and intolerance. We cannot expect youth to treat each other kindly when we accept politicians berating each other for sport, parents talking behind their neighbors’ backs, and reality TV stars becoming famous for treating each other horribly. If we want to create a kinder, braver world, we must collectively work to develop compassion, empathy and respect."