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WhyaDuck?
04-04-2010, 06:52 PM
What do you do in your classroom to teach kids to respect others? What do you do when bullying occurs? Do you feel your school does enough?

This thread is for ideas and discussion/venting on the problem in our classrooms, at any level of education (preschool and up).

WhyaDuck?
04-04-2010, 06:59 PM
I am also interested in what people consider bullying. I think most of us agree that it is more than "just" physical abuse, but what behaviours start the warning bells ringing? When do we start intervening?

MacPlus512
04-06-2010, 10:09 AM
My recommendation--if the anti-bullying programs sponsored by guidance counselors or other figures aren't doing their job, it's up to the teachers to get the anti-bullying messages in through language arts classes. Even if the programs do appear to be working, it's still not a bad idea to incorporate it in reading or even in other classes if it can be done.

In every basal reader there are at least a few stories in which a character is the subject of bullying. Often, this character will be close to the students in age. This could be a good time to implement reader's response, construction of "hamburger paragraphs", and ask questions at higher levels of Bloom's Taxonomy to get students to think about what would work best in this situation--and most importantly, WHY. Trade books could be used as well, especially if a lesson needs to be planned for a day between units that would not lend itself to starting something new and long-term. While writing is a skill that needs practiced, don't forget about using other methods of expression such as drama, especially if the other students can respond to it (i.e. how well did the actors handle the situation).

It's harder to get these messages into other subjects, but social studies is a possibility when discussing historical figures who may have been bullied. Also, if ancient history is in the curriculum, old myths on the subject may be good to use.

Of course, there are extraneous factors. A big one is the media, where characters are bullied constantly, often without punishment of the bully. Most blame movies and TV, but books can be just as bad if not worse (especially since readers tend to picture characters as looking like their friends, family members, and teachers and may picture someone being bullied as an unpopular student in their class). Songs can contain lyrics suggestive of bullying as well. There is no censorship outside of class beyond parents, however, and even then there is often no control.

Also, if you are working with children in any situation and you hear them talk negatively about someone, ask them what is wrong and step in as a counselor. It just may help them and help someone else in the process. I currently work as a math tutor and have done this with some of my children when they start talking endlessly about a student they don't like in the middle of a lesson (it sometimes happens if the name of that person comes up in a word problem, but often happens spontaneously, perhaps because they feel they can talk easier to someone who doesn't work at their school).

Finally, anyone in education should make themselves open to students to talk about problems with--even if it ends in a referral to a guidance counselor. This goes for everyone--teachers, principals, paraprofessionals, coaches, substitutes, nurses, lunch ladies, janitors, and even computer techs. Sometimes the best person to talk to may be someone unlikely--at my elementary school, our custodian was extremely nice and would listen to anyone and even work with them on things. I also got over a bout of depression in middle school with the help of a sub.

seatoad
04-06-2010, 10:48 AM
Well, I have taught preschool for a very long time. I see bullying starting so early now. 4 year olds trying to scare their peers and make them cry. At such a young age, I make them look at the childs face, ask them how that child is feeling(scared, sad). I try to explain that it doesn't feel good when someone scares you or is mean to you. Ask them if they can think of a way to make child feel better.(Usually an apology isn't the best thing, at this age , they usually aren't sorry, and it also teaches them that they can do whatever they want as long as they say sorry after.) I try to get them to hug child or get them ice if they have been hurt offer them a toy, or ask them to play a game with them, etc. If they caused a person pain or fear, they are responsible for taking care of them afterward.

WhyaDuck?
04-06-2010, 10:51 AM
Hi MacPlus - THANKS for the reply.

I, too, have doubts about the effectiveness of guidance counselors, and think this is a front-line issue that the teachers really are in a better position to deal with on the ground.

Just a note about my interest - I work with first year university students, ages 16 to 18 (thereabouts), so I don't deal with physical bullying all that much, but I do deal with the "popular kids" acting cruel and dismissive to the "unpopular" ones. Which is really sad at that age - clearly high schools are not doing much to stop this before these students hit young adulthood.

WhyaDuck?
04-06-2010, 10:54 AM
Well, I have taught preschool for a very long time. I see bullying starting so early now. 4 year olds trying to scare their peers and make them cry. At such a young age, I make them look at the childs face, ask them how that child is feeling(scared, sad). I try to explain that it doesn't feel good when someone scares you or is mean to you. Ask them if they can think of a way to make child feel better.(Usually an apology isn't the best thing, at this age , they usually aren't sorry, and it also teaches them that they can do whatever they want as long as they say sorry after.) I try to get them to hug child or get them ice if they have been hurt offer them a toy, or ask them to play a game with them, etc. If they caused a person pain or fear, they are responsible for taking care of them afterward.

I agree seatoad - apologies mean diddlysquat without real feelings behind it, and way too many adults still think that saying sorry afterwards is a licence to do whatever you want.

I also agree that empathy is the key - asking the kids to clearly identify how the other child feels. While this might not be helpful with kids who are aiming to cause pain in others, it might help with some kids who are just bullying out of insensitivity.

t93
04-06-2010, 01:20 PM
There is research that shows some kids who are bullied can't read subtle emotional cues, such as a child's eyes narrowing before they are irritated enough to begin attacking.
I was not an elementary school educator but a cafeteria volunteer(although I am a trained college level educator) and I did notice one child who was severely bullied(and yes, I did report it) was hyper and in her own little world. She never seemed to realize when she was pushing other children into reacting by her own behavior. This was not her fault, I want to emphasize. The bullies were often boys whose reaction to being irritated was to punch-even though the girl was much tinier. The boys parents justified it by saying "their son is a boy scout and would NEVER bully someone." I think we need more effective means of dealing with bullying other than suspension(which is our schools method of dealing with it) because the bullies come back even angrier.

MacPlus512
04-06-2010, 11:20 PM
WhyaDuck--Colleges can be just as bad as high schools, especially the smaller, more contained campuses. Here you also have alcohol as a variable, which adds a new dimension to the bullying game--people who tease others are more likely to actually do something while under the influence.

I was just talking to a college classmate the other day about why we commute. She and I both agreed that the dorms were too crazy, too cliquish, and breeding grounds for bullying, violence, and immature behavior. We wondered whatever happened to all those Sunday School lessons they used to teach the children and all those anti-bullying programs brought about in schools.

While I don't consider myself a South Park fan, I am familiar with the show and get a feeling many counselors are indeed like Mr. Mackey, who casually will say "drugs are bad, m-kay?" without actually doing anything about it. It's a shame, and goes to show that simply acing all your psych classes won't do any good unless you get good training as a counselor and have high standards and expectations to begin with.

WhyaDuck?
04-07-2010, 04:48 AM
WhyaDuck--Colleges can be just as bad as high schools, especially the smaller, more contained campuses. Here you also have alcohol as a variable, which adds a new dimension to the bullying game--people who tease others are more likely to actually do something while under the influence.

I was just talking to a college classmate the other day about why we commute. She and I both agreed that the dorms were too crazy, too cliquish, and breeding grounds for bullying, violence, and immature behavior. We wondered whatever happened to all those Sunday School lessons they used to teach the children and all those anti-bullying programs brought about in schools.

While I don't consider myself a South Park fan, I am familiar with the show and get a feeling many counselors are indeed like Mr. Mackey, who casually will say "drugs are bad, m-kay?" without actually doing anything about it. It's a shame, and goes to show that simply acing all your psych classes won't do any good unless you get good training as a counselor and have high standards and expectations to begin with.

I lived in dorm for my first year - it really was pure hell. I coped by going utterly goth. This was in the mid-90s, so they were basically all too afraid that I sacrificed goats in my spare time to bully me much after that. As a strategy, I cannot fault it.