The Educator's PLN

The personal learning network for educators

Bully Byte Blog - What is Bullying?

Webster defines bullying as A) “to treat abusively” and B) “to affect by means of force or coercion”. I’m not an expert in linguistics but that seems like a significant difference. It reminds me of President Obama’s speech the other day where he referred to himself as a former victim. Of course, I don’t know the whole story and there may be more to it, but on the surface it sounds like he was experiencing definition A rather than B.

Yes, it’s tough when kids make fun of your ears or your name but can we really compare that to a child who’s being verbally abused by a parent, threaten by other students or having their person physically abused in some way day after horrible day? As an educator, I ask this question because I’m concerned about the focus of our efforts, how we will allocate our limited time and resources and how we best prepare children to deal with the realities they will face in adulthood. 

John Boehner, Glen Beck and their cronies say things about the president today that make Dumbo or Babar seem pretty tame in comparison. Considering the current vitriol that dominates our political discourse, maybe we need to take The Olweus’ program to Congress and get them to play nice. Michelle Obama urged adults to “set an example by treating others with compassion and respect and give each other the benefit of the doubt because it sends a message to our kids”.

It’s frustrating to have to endure this endless stream of political talk “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing” (thanks Wild Bill).  It strikes me that Washington is out of touch with the realities of the problems we face in education. Mrs. Obama mentioned that her girls might not being telling her the whole truth when they come home from school and that parents need to be more inquisitive. Lucky for Mrs. Obama, the girls have secret service agents as back up so I sincerely doubt they’re experiencing bullying.

Bullying is about power and control, so the Obama girls definitely have the upper hand. Their bystanders have guns. I wonder what the agents are trained to do when the girls have a conflict on the playground. Do they draw down or do they instruct each party to breathe and play a quick game of rock, paper, scissors to settle the score. 

Bottom line, we’re not going to get anywhere until we define exactly what it is we’re trying to stop and get good at it before we move on to loftier aspirations. Dan Olweus, the creator of the program most in favor these days, defines bullying as “aggressive behavior that involves unwanted, negative actions; involves a pattern of behavior repeated over time; and involves an imbalance of power or strength." There is a major difference between rude name calling and repeated attempts to dominate and control another child.

Both are important goals but we have limited resources and kids who are engaged in these coercive relationships need our help immediately. Our first priority must be to deal with the bully in Webster’s second definition. We need to identify those who are habitually cruel to others, as a way of gaining social dominance, and their victims, then spend the rest of our time teaching kids who to effectively deal with the challenges of human relationship. Those are two different issues and must be dealt with in different ways.

The first requires immediate intervention by school officials, parental involvement and a restoration of the balance of power so the bully is stopped and the victim can resume a more normal life experience. The second requires ongoing, school wide social skills and problem solving education.  This two pronged approach will begin the process of healing, re-education and make schools safer. My fear is that we will go too far in trying to curb all negative interactions at school and end up with a policy like Zero Tolerance that will rival No Child Left Behind for its lofty vision but have limited practical applications.

Views: 42

Comment

You need to be a member of The Educator's PLN to add comments!

Join The Educator's PLN

About

Thomas Whitby created this Ning Network.

Latest Activity

yahaya Abdullahi shared George Danke's discussion on Facebook
Sep 11
Christine Hinkley updated an event

OLC Innovate 2020 at Sheraton Grand Chicago

March 31, 2020 to April 3, 2020
Together we will build new foundations for stronger, better higher education environments. And because innovation scales best when ideas are shared, our work sessions will explore digital technologies and adapted teaching behaviors aimed at informing policy, inspiring leadership, and evolving practice at all levels impacting institutions, universities and colleges.CALL FOR PROPOSALS OPEN UNTIL SEPTEMBER 30, 2019. LEARN MORE:…See More
Sep 10
yahaya Abdullahi liked George Danke's discussion Integration with The Latest Technology in Education Field
Aug 28
yahaya Abdullahi posted a status
"still working on the integration of ICT in teaching Biology"
Aug 28
Christine Hinkley posted an event

OLC Innovate 2020 at Sheraton Grand Chicago

March 31, 2020 to April 3, 2020
Together we will build new foundations for stronger, better higher education environments. And because innovation scales best when ideas are shared, our work sessions will explore digital technologies and adapted teaching behaviors aimed at informing policy, inspiring leadership, and evolving practice at all levels impacting institutions, universities and colleges.CALL FOR PROPOSALS OPEN UNTIL SEPTEMBER 30, 2019. LEARN MORE:…See More
Aug 19
George Danke posted a discussion

Integration with The Latest Technology in Education Field

It is with certainty that we can say that the future of education is looking very bright. Today the kids are taught so many new innovations that we adults couldn't have imagined learning at school. They are also given exposure to more practical lessons. Integration with the latest technology and the accessibility to global platforms have made the industry take a whole new perspective towards imparting knowledge to students. Though the current generation is much advanced and keep up with the…See More
Jul 25
George Danke replied to Nanacy Lin's discussion Future Of Education
"Hi! I think that exactly AI will have a great impact on feature of Education. Technologies are rapidly developing and soon there will be tools with the help of which the learning process will be faster and more efficient."
Jul 24
George Danke replied to Shanshan Ma's discussion Personalized learning network and social media
"Hi! I agree that this platform it is a nice place for educators.  However, you can find people and education groups in such social medias as Facebook and Twitter which also can help you to find some useful information.  So, I can not…"
Jul 24

© 2019   Created by Thomas Whitby.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service