“The most overused word in education is ‘bullying.’
People throw it around way too easily. You can make this accusation with absolutely no proof…
As usual, our society has swung too far in identifying ‘bullies’.”
I think Michael Smith is absolutely right. The word Bullying seems like it is the buzzword of the year. If you want to get the righteous up in arms, talk about bullying. Even some people who don’t have a clue about what is going on will jump on the bandwagon in favor of anti-bullying. They don’t need to know the situation but they will want to be on the side against the so called bully.
Many times I see instances of people being rude and self-centered. But that is not bullying.I grew up being made fun of because I was a minority. I was physically stuffed in lockers and I was scared to death. That is bullying to me. In my mind, bullying is something that someone does more than once and may be directed to one or more people. If we label people bullies I hope we have all of the facts.
I see rude people in the store who want to cut in line in front of me because they have gotten away with it before. This may be a bullying habit for them but I have no way of knowing if this behavior is a habit or a one-time event. Maybe the person has to go to the bathroom or is sick which causes them to be rude. I don’t know so I can’t label this person as a bully. I don’t think labels help anything and instead of labeling the behavior, it is important to talk about actions instead.
I see a lot of programs that talk about how we need to get rid of the bullies and how we should punish the bullies. There are also programs to change the behaviors of the bullies. Yet, I believe we also need to start teaching our students to stand up for themselves when they are faced with rude people or bullies. If they stand up to this person and the offensive behavior continues to be directed at them, they need to know how to handle the bullies. People would not continue rude and offensive behavior if others stood up to them. That is how society works.
Remember when you were a little kid and if you grabbed something out of another child’s hand, you might get bopped in the head. You learned not to do that behavior. How about the times you acted silly or said something stupid and your peers gave you that funny or disgusted look? You learned not to say that again. I think this works with rude behavior too. We need to stop being so polite to others and turning away from this behavior. We need to confront it and say it is not acceptable.
As a classroom lesson, I would create scenarios and have my students role play how they would behave in this situation. Role play is a very successful strategy when trying to demonstrate a certain behavior. The more this is practiced, the easier it will be for the students to do this when faced with a real situation in the same way that we practice fire drills and tornado drills. You hope that they will never have to face it but if they do it, they will be prepared.
How do you define “Bullies?” How do you prepare your students to deal with this type of behavior? Please share.
Image: 'Bully Free Zone'
Found on flickrcc.net