Posted on October 26, 2009 by Big Universe in Uncategorized.
Bullying in schools is rampant. As much as we would like to think our children are completely safe when we send them to school, we are sending them into a land mine of social fields that we have never thought to teach them about until recently. As a teacher I see bullying occur almost every day and I am constantly trying to find ways to stop the negative behavior and teach children why bullying behavior is harmful.
One of the big problems with bullying is its definition or how we perceive its definition. There are so many forms. The one definition everyone thinks of – the big mean bully who scares children – is one we have a lot of strategies to work with. It is the other kinds of bullying that are hard to teach both the bully and the child being bullied how to deal with. This type of bullying is emotional bullying. It’s very insidious. It can occur in the classroom right in front of the teacher. It occurs during a play group right in front of a mom. It occurs on the computer, during a messaging session. Emotional bullying is the worse kind because it gets inside the child’s head and that’s not as easy to heal as a bruise.
Taunting, teasing, and laughing inappropriately at a child are all bullying. Name calling, spreading rumors, forming groups and purposefully leaving one child out are all bullying. Even the negative connotations that eye contact and a nasty smirk with a child that is being taunted and teased gets across the room from the bully can be considered an act of bullying if it goes with previous behaviors of abuse. We need to give children some pictures or examples in their brain so that the next time they are on the playground, on the bus, in the hallway, or in the classroom, they can remember some of the appropriate ways to respond to a bullying situation.
Girls are great at emotional bullying. For years, maybe centuries, they’ve formed cliques. They have spread rumors, sent nasty glances, and slipped nasty notes into backpacks or purses. Boys can be just as good but in my experience they tend to bully only the ones considered lowest in the social scale. Girls don’t have a problem forming a social group against the beautiful blonde but boys don’t get together to bully the football quarter back.
The children I see bullied most often by boys are those least able to defend themselves. These children may be receiving special education services, or they may be socially naïve and immature. Boys do not want a challenge they can’t win fairly easily. They need the ego boost. How do we solve this problem?
The important thing to note with all of these acts of bullying is they begin early – in elementary school. Current surveys show that fourth grade can be one of the worst years for bullying in the elementary years. Don’t get me wrong. The other years are bad, but fourth grade stands out.
I have found books and videos help me to show my students ways to deal with bullying in a positive non threatening way. For young children the written word becomes proof and seeing it in a video confirms to them that a behavior is wrong. There are also many websites now that have books that show beautifully on a Smart Board. After reading the books and showing the videos it’s important to have a discussion with the children. Many of the books come with quizzes as do the videos. These can help you to assess their understanding.
Big Universe has several wonderful books that address bullying with gorgeous illustrations. Chester Raccoon and the Big Bad Bully written by Audrey Penn, and published by Charlesbridge is one of theses books. For more selections go to Big Universe and type bullying in the search engine. A great site for videos on bullying and other character education topics is Discovery Education. If you are a teacher and your school subscribes to United Streaming, you’re in luck!
We can’t ignore bullying. Just saying we had to deal with it as children and we turned out okay, is not the way to approach the topic. Pick up a book and let your student see how to handle negative behaviors positively. Let’s not send any more bullies into our world.