After a decade of teaching and another decade of parenting, I think that the bully apple doesn't fall far from the tree.
Which is the problem. And makes the schools' job that much harder.
Yes, I'm saying that chances are good to great that the bully learned everything he knows from someone else -- most likely in his home environment.
(No, I'm not saying that your son who decides to punch his best friend is a bully and learned it from you. You'll tell him it's not okay and help him make better choices. I know that. That's different.)
Let me give you an example of what I mean. I had two kids in the hallway working on a big project -- they were in the hallway to spread out. Brandon, a quiet kid, came running in with a bloody nose, saying the other student, Bill, a student who always talked-back, punched him in the face. I could immediately tell from their stories, the evidence, and their behavior history that indeed Bill punched Brandon. I wrote Bill a referral and sent him to the principal's office.
Fast forward to when I was called to the principal's office . . . Bill's dad had made such a fuss that, not only did the referral get ripped up, I got a disciplinary note in my file for how I treated Bill. (??!!)
I wonder who taught Bill to bully.
Bullying might not be worse than when you were a child but it's not much better. Plus, it's more sophisticated than ever before thanks to technology.
Schools may be trying to prevent bullying but since bullying is still affecting millions of children, it isn't working.
I think part of that is because the requirement that you must have witnesses, which often you don't. Bullies are smart and crafty - not thugs on the corner who trip kids walking by.
Add that to the challenging task of a school trying to have more influence on a child's behavior than that of the child's family environment.
(And, it should be a parenting responsibility, not the schools'.)
It's a pretty daunting task!
On a positive note, the visibility of groups advocating for anti-bullying education and the resources for schools and families are greater than ever before.
So, parents, as we try to help our children learn to be kind and find strategies to deal with bullying, here are some of the best the anti-bullying resources that I've found:
For Preschool Children
1. Spookley the Square Pumpkin: ipad app, new animated movie, and lesson plans
2. How to Handle Preschool Bullies, Parenting.com
3. Hands Are Not for Hitting by Martine Agassi, Ph.D.
4. Bully Books on Embracing the Child
For Elementary School Children
1. Anti-Bullying Children's Books from Publisher's Weekly
2. Little Girls Can Be Mean by Michelle Anthony and Reyna Lindert
3. Dare! Tough! Weird! by Erin Frankel
4. The Bully Free Classroom by Allan L. Beane, Ph.D.
5. Activities for Building Character and Social-Emotional Learning by Katia S. Petersen, Ph.D.
6. Real Friends vs. the Other Kind by Annie Fox, M.Ed.
Teach your children kindness toward all people. Be involved in guiding your children to make good behavior choices. And, start monitoring their technology use from day one. No privacy until they're 18 is our rule.
Do you recommend other resources?
What are your ideas for preventing bullying in schools?