Monday, September 22, 2008

Bully Culture

Peace Day 2008, Photo Credit: Honolulu Star-Bulletin

I found one of the most interesting and unexpected things about Peace Day this year was the focus on bullying. From the school yard to the internet, bullying takes place with serious consequences. The Star Bulletin story is here. The Advertiser story is here.

A good place to start is defining what bullying is, and the forms that it takes. It's not just "a normal part of growing up" or "getting picked on". The belief that children grow out of it, and that bullying is part of life so they need to just figure out how to deal with it, is outdated. I would guess that a fair number of parents have no idea that their children are being bullied right before their eyes, in the form of text messages or on social networking sites.
Children cannot solve the problem alone. They need help from adults to tackle bullying, and here's how one school, from the Star-Bulletin story, dealt with it:
Carole Iacovelli, executive director of Youth Service Hawaii, lauded the approach taken at one elementary school where third-graders felt the fifth-graders were picking on them. The teacher suggested the third-graders develop guidelines for the playground, and brought in the fifth-graders to advise them.

"The biggest bullies in fifth grade were the ones with their hands up," offering suggestions, she said. Along with the guidebook, the kids decided to appoint one third- and one fifth-grader roam as "safe ambassadors" each recess to ward off potential problems.

"That school created a wonderful environment to let students solve bullying," she said.

No comments: