Friday, May 11, 2012

Bullying or Growing?: Bullying Is Not Always What It Seems

How to Stop Bullying in Schools

By Scott Thomason, principal

Not all bullying is what it seems. There is a difference that educators must know between tatelling and bullying.
As countless real-life stories can attest, bullying is an increasingly pervasive and destructive effect of our ever-expanding reality. Unfortunately, as with any mainstream issue, it is neither new nor as pervasive as most parents would have the media believe.

I do not doubt for one moment that it is not occurring regularly, not only my campus, but on campuses across America. After having fielded hundreds of calls from outraged parents over the past five years, however, I can attest that what a parent calls "bullying" is nothing more than the results of the natural development of kids.

I watch students at lunch every day, chasing each other, grabbing back packs, smack talking, and even, at times, tackling, hitting, kicking, and even throwing things at another student, but, is this truly bullying? In the vast majority of cases, the answer is NO! We have a litmus test here at my school that we use with parents and students to determine when an issue is or is not bullying: Is it unwanted? Is it ongoing? And most importantly, is it one-sided?

An issue we deal with regularly is when the parent of a “bullying victim” comes to us demanding justice because their child is being harassed, bullied, picked on, etc. And we have to tell them, “This is the first we’ve heard about it.” So, we also regularly educate our students on the importance of notifying someone when they perceive they are being singled out. But, due to the anti-snitch mentality, we almost always get blind-sided by out-of-the-blue allegations that, upon further investigation, fail one or more facets of the litmus test.

We are almost always confronted with the reality that little Johnny was playing around with a friend who either got mad or got carried away and did something harmful to hurt him. Of course, that doesn’t keep the parents from believing that we are doing nothing and that her child’s school is unsafe. I always have to tell the parent that unfortunately, you weren’t there, I wasn’t there, and the only ones who know the truth are telling different stories.

So, does bullying exist? Yes. Is it a problem? Yes. Does that mean that every parent’s fears are coming to pass and that the world is out to get their little baby? No. 99% of the time, it is about the choices a child makes, whether to talk or not talk, tell or not tell, play or not play, be a victim or stand up for themselves. Until the time comes when we stop falling victim to our own actions, we will ever be faced with bullies.

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