Education Week Blogs, December 8, 2011
“It’s like hearing the same song too many times on the radio. After a while people turn the station.”
The word “bullying” is used on a daily basis. We usually hear it for the first time when we’re watching the news in the morning as we get ready for work or school. There are sad stories from around the nation about children who are being bullied by their peers. The media often focuses on the worst stories of bullying because those are the ones that make the headlines. However, there are millions of more stories happening every day that hopefully will not have the same tragic endings but they are just as serious.
Bullying is targeted behavior on the part of one or more people toward one person. Bullying does not just happen in schools, it happens in neighborhoods where children live, the workplace, on television and even at home from a parent, sibling or another family member. As viewers, we are actually exposed to bullying by the turn of a channel. It involves one victim and one or more bullies. It can be from student to student, or adult to student and adult to adult.
The following questions come to mind where bullying is concerned:
• How can we teach children to be an upstander (bystander who intervenes) when the adults around them won’t stand up?
• How often have you seen an adult talk about another adult or child on Facebook? If you have, how many “friends” comment negatively about the situation that they really know nothing about?
• How often, as an adult, have you not intervened in a situation because you didn’t want the bully to make you or your child the next victim?
• How often as a teacher or administrator, have you asked the victim to change their behavior so they will not be bullied?
Bullying is quite a popular word. 24/7 media focus on the worst cases, which is important because it provides viewers a glimpse into how, even the smallest of bullying issues, can end. However, this constant focus on the part of the media, although important, can lead many adults and children to take the issue less seriously. It’s like hearing the same song too many times on the radio. After a while people turn the station.
If we’re going to talk about bullying, then we need to make sure that we are focusing on real bullying issues and it will take more than just the school system to tackle this problem. Bullying is an issue that takes parents, schools and the media, and given the amount of mixed messages all of those groups send students, we may never see an end to the problem.