I just got back from another one of those "Conversations on Bullying" that was sponsored by the local Unitarian Church. It was really interesting. Sad and scary but very interesting.
I learned something I did not know today; maybe it is intuitive or maybe not. Apparently, the most profound effect on changing the bullying dynamic is for the bystanders to stand up and say something against it at the time.
Silence is acquiescence. Ignoring is reinforcing.
"That is not ok!" said at the right time can change everything. It has more power than parents and teachers getting involved. More powerful than treating the individual bully and victim.
The speaker today is a clinical psychologist who specializes on children's socialization. She was instrumental in developing the Second Step bullying education program for schools. Come to find out the Second Step is the program that is used in our local school and many school district in the US and the UK.
Although evidence of the program was everywhere in the early grades, I am not seeing it being used in the 4th & 5th grades.
I have a real problem with this. The younger kids definitely need this but the older kids do too. I think that with younger children, the teachers see the bullying more and they can address it. But, with the older kids, they are more secretive and sophisticated. They are smart enough to know not to do it in front of a teacher or any adult.
Most schools don't even think they have a problem because it flys under the radar.
I am going to try and push for the "Conversation on Bullying" to be brought to our elementary school specifically because we are seeing more and more of it this year in the older grades. Now, would be an excellent time to refresh or remind parents, teachers and kids alike just how damaging bullying can be and it is NOT ok.