Life's Tool Box – A Guide for Parents and Educators

February 28, 2012

Beating Bullying – Can We Afford Not To?

Filed under: Uncategorized — by Life's Toolbox @ 10:13 pm
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This is not a new story.  Columbine, West Padukah, now Chardon.  In these harrowing moments, we tend to react in knee jerk ways – but we need extended and extensive efforts to address this complex problem.  We need to see children as more than the recipients of knowledge and schools as more than driven by standards that measure how much academic content has been delivered.  We need to create learning and living environments for children that provide lessons in humanity as well as math, science, English and other valued topics.  We need to be as focused on standards that promote our students’ social responsibility as their knowledge of facts.

 

The challenge is substantial.  No assembly, or one-time lesson will do.  Impassioned pleas by powerful speakers will not fix the problem.  Mandates for policies and consequences by government agencies, often vague and without adequate funding to support them, will not fix the problem.

 

Research on school climate and culture documents the slow and effortful – but possible – process of creating caring and safe environments.   Evidence exists for effective bully prevention, but so many schools rely on less than optimal programs because they lack the time, resources or awareness.

 

The pressure to perform on high stakes testing, the evaluation of teachers based on students’ grades, forces the production of healthy, socially-competent and socially engaged citizens to take a back seat.  Can we afford to graduate generations who know a lot, but contribute little?  Can we afford to point fingers or create contingencies after devastating acts of destruction, rather than look carefully at what we create in our schools?  School violence is not about eliminating a problem.  It is about building – building children’s skills and teachers’ repertoires, building parent-school partnerships to support children’s social-emotional growth, building bridges between research and practice that support large-scale implementation of sound bully prevention and social leadership programming.

 

There was a time, not so long ago, when virtually every parent feared for their child’s safety from the crippling disease of Polio.  In my lifetime, a vaccine has made such fears totally obsolete, so much so that today’s children are puzzled by the funny scar-like marks some of us have on our upper arms.  I don’t hold out hope for a vaccine for bullying any time soon.  I do hope that we will not become immune to the palpable and deadly ills that wait to hurt our children.  I hope we will devote tireless energy and efforts to keep them healthy and safe.

 

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