I just found a thought provoking and well written blog post by Corinne Gregory. Check out her full article here:
She gave a talk for parents at a school and was interrupted before she even got to her main point by an urgent parent question:
The parents immediately went to “my child has been bullied here at school — what do I do?” They shared that in spite of the fact that their children had been participating in a “program” at the school for years, bullying was still happening so what was I recommending we do about that? They also felt that their administration wasn’t doing as much as they could to fix the problem because bullies weren’t being held accountable. One parent wanted to know why the bully shouldn’t be expected to write a note to the victim explaining how sorry he/she was for bullying.
To her credit Corinne made the point that I keep making and that Izzy Kalman has been making for over a decade. The usual responses to bullying, consequences, punishment etc., are all after the fact.
If forcing the bully to write a note of apology worked, bullying would have ended a long time ago. The reality is that when you force a kid to apologize to another it is just another form of bullying. This time it’s the powerful adults doing the humiliating. Now the bully hates the kid that got him in trouble and hates the adults that have punished him. Is he more likely or less likely to lash out at something or someone?
She goes on to say that Bullying can not be solved with a single snappy, easy fix answer and I agree. She concludes that our culture has to change before bullying will go away.
Here’s her full article: To End Bullying Requires A Cultural Change
And here is where I might be of a different opinion. Trying to change an entire culture is a lot harder than teaching kids how to manage their own internal states, and to be in charge of their own interpretation of what any other person says or does. After all, if you call me an “idiot” you are only expressing your first amendment right to free speech. I’m the one who chooses to either feel hurt or appreciative of your feedback.
If we taught kids to not take name calling and teasing personally instead of what we are currently doing, which is essentially teaching them that words have devastating power, we would make more progress.
Ultimately teasing and name calling (the most common form of bullying) is test of dominance and power between two kids. It’s a game that one kid plays while the other doesn’t know the rules. Teach the “target” kid the rules and all of a sudden a huge change has been made.
Teach the “victim” that when he or she gets upset, the bully wins. When he or she responds from a place of calm empowerment and gives the bully no satisfying reaction, the target wins and the teasing stops. The teasing usually stops because it’s no fun for the kid doing the name calling if there’s no reaction. The reaction is the pay off.
Changing this dynamic does not require an entire culture to change. It only requires being willing to think outside of the “punishment box” and try something that at the very worst, will help increase a child’s self esteem.
In my experience, the person who is saying this the most clearly and concisely is Izzy Kalman. his website is http://Bullies2Buddies.com His point is more rules and laws are not the solution. His point is we need to give kids the tools to manage their conflicts without all the complexity and baggage of constant adult intervention.
Empowering individual kids to be flexible and resourceful when faced with adversity and obstacles serves them for a lifetime. Yes, there are times when adults have to intervene. But by intervening too often we also often get sucked into our own projections, fears and anxiety. When we do that we rob our kids of the opportunity to build skills for dealing with the real world.
And ultimately that could be the “cultural change” that ends bullying in our lifetime…
Again, I invite you to read Corine’s full article: To End Bullying Requires A Cultural Change
I welcome your thoughts (even if you think I’m an idiot :o).
by phone: 888-598-7709 by email: BullyingPreventionNow [at] gmail.com
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