It seems like a day doesn’t go by where we don’t hear news of some sort of bullying incident. That’s really no surprise when you consider that over 70 percent of students say they have witnessed bullying happening in their schools.
While many schools have taken measures to combat the problem, they just might be going about it the wrong way. Turns out that while it is important to teach children about respect and the dangers associated with bullying, the same advice should be taken by the people enforcing the rules. Here are five examples of how you shouldn’t deal with bullying. Responsible adults, please take note.
1. Don‘t Give Dangerous Advice
In an effort to curtail bullying at their school, fifth-grade students from Zeman Elementary School in Lincoln, Neb., were sent home with a bullying advice flyer. You would think this would be a good thing, until you actually read the advice be given:
Rule #2: Treat the person who is being mean as if they are trying to help you.
This rules goes on to say, “Be grateful and think they really care about you.” Be grateful that you are being bullied? Think the bully is trying to help you? The message here is that bullying is a good thing. What’s to stop a kid reading this from going on to bully other kids in an effort to help them out or excuse their own behavior?
Rule #7: Do not tell on bullies.
This is probably the most dangerous of the rules which goes on to say “tell an adult only when a real injury or crime has occurred.” School should be a safe place where children go first and foremost to learn. If the adults don’t know what’s going on how can they create this safe space? This seems more like a rule so that administrators don’t have to deal with the problem.
Rule #9: Learn to laugh at yourself and not get “hooked” by put downs.
This rule goes on to suggest making a joke about the bullying or agreeing with the put down and saying something like, “If you think I’m ugly, you should see my sister!” I mean, really?
After much outrage from parents, the school has since apologized for the flyer and circulated a fact sheet about bullying that is far more informative than this flyer, which would have done more good in the trash.
2. Don‘t Encourage Victims to Seek Revenge
Over the years there have been countless PSA’s created to combat bullying. The latest from VH1, however, really misses the mark. Take a look for yourself to see what I mean:
The premise of the campaign is that children shouldn’t bully because one day their victims will seek out revenge on them in the professional world. And that victims should buck up and “survive” the bullying because one day they will have the upper hand.
Seeking revenge of any kind is not the right lesson to teach children, let alone use as a means to combat bullying. Beyond these very obvious problems, there is also the fact that the examples of bullying being portrayed in the video are extremely exaggerated. Bullying can happen in much subtler ways and nowadays it often happens online rather than in person, but that doesn’t mean the bullying is any less serious or damaging.
The only redeeming quality about this PSA is that it is set to the melody of Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive.”
3. Don‘t Mock Victims
Bullying has become a talking point for many politicians.
Well, Central California’s mayor Cameron Hamilton is proof of what you shouldn’t say on the issue. In response to a student-led anti-bullying effort which would establish off-campus safe zones throughout the city for teens who are being bullied after school, Hamilton had the following to say:
I mean, I am against bullying, but I am getting damn tired of it [bullying] being used as a mantra for everything that ills the world when all most people have to do is a grow a pair and stick up for them damn selves.
Does Hamilton regret his remarks or apologized? Nope. In fact, after reading comments about his statement his response is, “it appears that the majority of our country has decided to speak up and say they agree with my analogy and are fed up with the zero-tolerance policy of our public schools.”
Not sure who agrees with Hamilton, but I think we can all agree here that telling bullying victims to “grow a pair” is not the best way to deal with bullying.
4. Don‘t Minimize Bullying Consequences
The most tragic outcome of bullying is ultimately suicide, and Alyssa Funke is was of the latest victims.
After days of relentless online bullying for her performance in a series of adult films, the 19-year-old University of Wisconsin-River Falls student bought herself a gun and took her own life.
Despite the clear correlation between the suicide and cyber bullying, police have concluded that what happened to Funke didn’t constitute as harassment and instead blamed her involvement in porn as the cause of her suicide. The school of the students who bullied Funke has also come out in their defense saying cyber bullying has never been a problem and that the students will not face any disciplinary action for what happened.
Funke’s parents are insistent that the bullying their daughter received on social media is to blame for her suicide and as such created a crowdfunding campaign to raise awareness about cyber bullying, which sadly only raised $165.
Whether or not cyber bullying is what ultimately pushed Funke to pull the trigger, it was part of the problem. Placing the blame elsewhere is a complete missed opportunity to teach children about the consequences of bullying. Minimizing the problem doesn’t make it go away. It creates a bigger one.
5. Don‘t Answer Bullying With Bullying (But Do Share Personal Stories)
We all know that two wrongs don’t make a right and this video proves that’s the case especially when it comes to bullying.
This story is incredibly powerful and absolutely worth the watch. Showing any young person in your life this video is absolutely a step in the right direction for humanizing the problem of bullying and dealing with it the right way.
Got any other ideas? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.
Photo Credit: Twentyfour Students