Dear LA Teacher,
The mass media has continuously repeated, “bullying continues because schools do nothing to make it stop.” What can schools actually do to prevent bullying?
Dear Glendale Teacher,
In April 2013 Devin Brown, a13-year-old Georgia boy, hanged himself after reportedly being bullied at school. Is this the fault of his middle school? Realistically, there is little schools can do to prevent bullying, per se. There’s a lot they can do to educate their students about the problem.
Every school in California and our nation has programs in place to prevent the bullying that took Devin’s life. They have to. It’s the law. However, there is a conundrum. Once a school gets involved in a bullying incident, hostilities to the victimized child escalate.
Why do meetings with parents of bullies fail? When a bully gets in trouble at home due to the snitching of his victim, the victim will more than likely be victimized again. Unfortunately, the inner city saying, “snitches get stitches,” is very true.
When schools punish a bully, the bully does not learn respect for the victim. He just learns to hate more. In Devin’s case, he was teased for snitching. The hate against him escalated instead of being extinguished. An educated victim can only do this. Devin was not educated, and due to that misstep by his school or parents, Devin killed himself.
How can a victim become educated? Help can be found at Bully2Buddies. According to Izzy Kalman, a Nationally Certified School Psychologist and Director of Bullies to Buddies, Inc., kids need to stop thinking of bullies as their enemy. Kalman says, “You want people to treat you like a friend. Enemies hurt you and make you miserable.”
Instead of responding angrily to a taunt like, “You’re fat.” Kalman suggests victims to respond intelligently by saying, “I wish I could be skinny like you.” Or if a kid says, “Your gay.” Instead of name calling back or fighting, say, “Oh, really? What about me makes you think I’m gay?”
Here’s another Kalman response to a typical bully situation:
A kid pushes or hits a victim.
Instead of causing the problem to escalate, the victim says, “Are you mad at me?”
This gets the bully’s attention. If the bully isn’t mad, he may come to his senses and cease the attack. If he is angry, he’ll tell the victim why, setting the groundwork for a friendship and the opportunity for the victim to apologize for the wrong doing.
If schools are really interested in creating a bully-free school environment they will focus more on the Golden Rule and less on punishment, and perhaps even save lives.
Koolura Akopyan has an interesting way of handling bullies in The Legend of Koolura.