The last two weeks we’ve talked about ways to deal with (and hopefully eradicate) bullying. First, we talked about IDENTIFYING the root problem. Next, we talked about ADDRESSING the heart issue.
This week, we’re talking about EMPOWERING students to be the solution. One of our readers—an Idaho teacher using our What I Wish I Knew at 18 curriculum—responded to our bullying blogs with the following: “When students buy into the (idea) that everyone is unique and special, they won’t allow others to intimidate their peers. You will hear in (our) halls, ‘We don’t do this at our school.’ … Our school isn’t perfect but the students take an active role in the process.”
Way to go! That’s exactly our next point: Mainstreaming integrity, compassion, and respect (i.e., making them a vital component of school culture) is a key way to counteract bullying!
Bullies prefer physical isolation to perpetrate their unkind acts to avoid getting caught by authorities or loyal classmates. That’s why the best solutions bring bullying “into the light.” Schools that make addressing the bullying issue PART OF THEIR SCHOOL CULTURE experience a quicker turn-around than those who simply address the issue on a one-off basis, behind closed doors. When it comes to bullying, positive peer pressure is the best solution of all! That’s because a strong school culture fosters a healthy learning environment for all in a preventive, rather than reactive, manner. In What I Wish I Knew at 18, I share about the character qualities and social values that empower young people to treat others with dignity, avoid destructive relationships, and be catalysts for change in their schools and communities. Some of these tips include:
These are important values we ALL need to cultivate in our lives, no matter how old we are! And, when we train young people to model them, we offer useful, lifelong tools to create a positive culture in the world around them.
We invite you to explore how our What I Wish I Knew at 18 resources can help your school, organization, and family instill a positive and inspired community culture.
How do you empower the young people in your life to treat others with dignity and steer clear of destructive relationships? (insert link) We hope you’ll pass this link (and the rest of our bullying series) on to a friend or colleague. And then, share a comment below; we’d be glad to hear your reports and suggestions!
One thing’s for sure. Bullying isn’t primarily a behavior issue. It’s a HEART issue.
Unfortunately, when we address bullying as simply a behavior issue, we may get conformity—but without genuine personal transformation.
Frankly, we don’t think that’s good enough.
Poster contests and slaps on the hand are NOT going to change the heart issues that lie at the base of bullying behaviors. What are? Early training and ingraining of healthy relationships and character (i.e., developing healthy attitudes, behaviors, and decisions). If that doesn’t happen in the home, we can all help in other arenas like school, church, community clubs, sports teams, and neighborhoods.
Here’s how you can invest in kids to encourage and empower them to develop healthy heart attitudes toward others:
Help children understand both active and passive bullying, to instill awareness and empathy (e.g., beating someone up, taunting them, or posting online ridicule is active bullying; deliberate exclusion is passive bullying)
Invite students to become a part of the solution by defining and modeling a positive culture of integrity and kindness, and holding each other accountable
Mentor the bullies on the heart issue, not just the behavior (here, counselors can get to the root cause of the insecurity or desire for control that’s driving their actions)
Schools should strive to develop a strong Personal Leadership Foundation in their students to combat bullying before it happens and foster healthy learning environments for all. Doing so will require an active school commitment to character and leadership training.
Help students understand that deliberate acts of unkindness are the manifestation of our own insecurities. Calling it out this way may make bullies think twice and lead to the needed conviction and change.
Teach that the most successful and admired people go out of their way to build up others, not tear them down. (Imagine if students said only neutral or positive things about one another!)
One complicating factor is that “bullies” don’t always fit into a neat profile—and bullying can strike in seemingly unlikely places. The following video, first aired on The Today Show, is a good example. In this case, it’s an ultimately transformational story of how a couple of high school bullies had a change of heart and went on to become anti-bullying advocates. I wish every bullying story turned out this way:
This could be my town or your town, our schools, our kids. If it happens—do you have a plan?
What is your school, family, organization, or community doing to address the heart issues behind bullying behavior? Please “share” this post with friends, and comment here on our website. If you haven’t already, be sure to sign up for our e-newsletter. We’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions!
As we interact with educators, parents, and students, the pernicious issue of bullying keeps rearing its ugly head. So, we were pleased to learn that October has been named National Bullying Prevention Month.
Bullying is a huge social problem that’s become increasingly pervasive in our schools and communities, begging the question we often hear:
Is it possible to stop bullying? And if so, how?
We have some thoughts we’d like to share.
Step One: IDENTIFY the Real Problem (and the Real Bullies) The reality is that most bullies wouldn’t call themselves bullies. That’s what happens when we put labels on behavior: it often makes it easier to pass the buck. “Who me, a bully? No way!” Many (if not most) “bullies” find it difficult to identify themselves as such for a couple of reasons. For one, many children and young adults regularly experience intimidation, manipulation, exclusion, threats, emotional abuse, and even violence in their homes. Not surprisingly, they act out their own insecurities or desires for control the same way. And, they often get away with it.
Secondly, “bullying” has traditionally been thought of as tripping another kid in the hall or roughing him up against the lockers. Or, it’s been teasing someone in hushed whispers in the lunchroom or threatening to beat up another student unless she hands over her lunch money. Today’s bullying, however, tends to be much more personal and committed over cyberspace. Social media is lately the preferred venue for public humiliation, taunting, and threats.
Bullying is not just a behavior issue; it’s a heart issue, often borne out of personal insecurity. We can’t just change the way bullies act. We have to help them change the way they think: about the world, about other people, and about themselves. When schools, teachers, counselors, parents, and mentors step in to do just that, it can be the beginning of real personal transformation in the lives of the affected parties, both abusers and victims.
It’s the first step in shifting from reaction to prevention. And, that’s what it’s all about!
We’ll talk more about ways to do that in Part 2 of our bullying solutions series. Join us next week for “Bullying: Addressing the Heart Issue.” In the meantime, hit “share” and pass this post along to a friend or co-worker. Invite them into the conversation by encouraging them to subscribe to our e-newsletter. Let us hear your thoughts about and experiences with bullying by commenting below. We all have lots to learn!