My colleague Caltha Crowe has been researching bullying prevention for an upcoming book, and as a result, my antennae are out for news on this topic. So, the other day when I heard the White House held a conference on bullying prevention. I checked out the website. I was most struck by this statement by President Obama:
“We’ve got to make sure our young people know that if they’re in trouble, there are caring adults who can help and young adults that can help; that even if they’re having a tough time, they’re going to get through it, and there’s a whole world full of possibility waiting for them. We also have to make sure we’re doing everything we can so that no child is in that position in the first place. And this is a responsibility we all share—a responsibility we have to teach all children the Golden Rule: We should treat others the way we want to be treated.”
The Department of Health and Human Services has also amassed many helpful resources at www.stopbullying.gov. I found one article especially helpful— “Effective Strategies in Combating Bullying” by Catherine P. Bradshaw and Tracy E. Waasdorp. In a concise and readable way, the authors review what current research has shown about the most effective approaches to prevent bullying. In the same powerful way, they share what has not worked and propose what other research is needed.
The importance of one of the strategies Bradshaw and Waasdorp mention—addressing the issue head-on in classrooms—was brought home to me during a brief encounter with a first grader this week. I was trying out a lesson on the importance of including others and the pain exclusion causes. During my lesson, I read a children’s picture book where some children deliberately excluded a classmate.
When I asked the students if any of them had ever seen someone be left out the way the character in the story was, one first grader piped up and said, “Yes, I’ve seen someone—me—all the time.”
He put his head down, and then his classmates visibly responded. Their bodies moved slightly toward him, some emitted quiet “oh’s,” and all looked a little forlorn. In just a few moments I saw them move a little closer to understanding and empathy. The child’s words and his classmates’ response made me realize the importance of talking and thinking about these issues in a deep way, beginning even in the younger grades.
So, I’ll keep looking for resources on this topic, and I hope you will share resources you’ve found helpful in your work with children as well.
P.S. Do check out the www.stopbullying.gov website, especially its section for educators. You’ll find a great deal of information there, including ideas on how to prevent and respond to incidents of bullying.
Margaret Berry Wilson is the author of several books, including: The Language of Learning, Doing Science in Morning Meeting (co-authored with Lara Webb), Interactive Modeling, and Teasing, Tattling, Defiance & More.Tags: Bullying