Friday, July 23, 2010

Stopping Bullying

In another must-read piece in the New York Times: "There's Only One Way to Stop a Bully," two Williams College psychology professors say that bullying will end only when schools teach kids "how to be good to one another, how to cooperate, how to defend someone who is being picked on, and how to stand up for what is right." I couldn't agree more! These things need to be taught at home too. We ALL need to be part of the solution.

Regarding schools, though, since the advent of No Child Left Behind, there's been such a push for kids to do well on standardized tests, character education and social skills programs have been largely eliminated. Now, with youth cruelty on the rise, it's more important than ever to teach kids kindness, compassion, and common decency. Also critical is for kids and adults to be upstanders who speak up for kids who are picked on rather than looking the other way.

I'd like to urge all of you to share the Times article with your schools. If they say there's no time to teach anything but the three R's, help them understand that with over 50% of today's kids being bullied, we all need to respond. According to testimony before the American Medical Association, kids who are bullied are more likely to be depressed, lonely, anxious, and think about suicide. We can't afford to lose any more kids to the scourge of bullying, especially when solutions exist. If Johnny can read and write but he's too depressed to get out of bed because he gets bullied every day, what's all the rest worth, really?

We have the power to make things better. Now we need to harness the will to move ahead.

What do you think?

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  1. If all we do in schools is "teach to the test," then we are forgetting how to teach children to act in society. They are left to learn from one another - and if you read "Lord of the Flies," we know that without consistent adult guidance, children form their own rules of society. Budget cuts and pressures on schools to improve test scores lead to the elimination of sports, clubs, and other programs where children learn to interact together and under the guidance of adults who can help them.

  2. The student culture is an important part of the learning process, and if it is one of fear and exploitation the wrong lessons will be learned. Thanks for addressing this vital but relatively little-discussed problem