I have a hard time imagining that bullying is any worse than it ever was. Some kids are just mean. Why is so much school time being devoted to this topic?
Bullying has been on the landscape of every childhood; you are right that there have always been mean kids who make life difficult for others. However, technology and social media have brought about an increase in the number of incidents of bullying and have added another mechanism by which bullying occurs. The speed with which vicious posts spread far surpasses anything we have ever known. In no time, a student can become a victim of a large number of taunts and jabs.
Because of the pervasive and very public nature of bullying now possible through technology, public health agencies, school counselors and child psychologists have felt compelled to develop multi-faceted programs to address this issue. Students learn how to avoid becoming victims by building self-confidence and developing specific strategies to use in response to bullies. Classmates learn to recognize when behaviors escalate from teasing to bullying and are given ideas on how to stand up for others. Kids also come to understand their responsibility in reporting bullying to trusted adults for the protection of others. Would-be bullies learn that what they may consider harmless teasing can have immediate and long-term effects on their victims.
Social media emboldens kids who would likely never have surfaced as “bullies” a generation ago. Kids consider their negative posts as harmless because they are not physically hurting anyone. They simply do not understand that the pain inflicted on others in this way can result in much more damage than a playground fight. Parents should monitor their child’s email and social media accounts to make sure their child is not being bullied and also, to ensure that their child’s actions could not be perceived as inflicting harm on others.
Ask the Teacher is written by Deb Krupowicz, a mother of four who holds a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction. Deb has over twenty years of experience teaching preschool, elementary and middle school students. Please send your questions to her at [email protected]