The big push in health care is prevention. Exercise, eat right and have the yearly exams you need for early detection. Every time I hear one of those commercials, I think about the current debate around bullying. Is bullying something that just happens or is it a disease that grows out of years of neglect like a tumor? Does the child who eventually becomes the bully have contributing factors and bad personal habits which can be minimized with the appropriate intervention, education and practice? Absolutely and this is where we need to start. No one will argue the devastating effects of real bullying on the life of a person, young or old, but most bullies are not born. Most bullies develop over years of compensating for poor skills and limited social success. And whether we like it or not, so do most victims.
Current legislation is focused almost entirely on dealing with the problem after it's already happening. A Zero Tolerance policy against all things negative will blanket the school. Prosecution and punishment will convince the bully to think twice before they tease another kid or send another nasty email. I live in California and the size of our prison system and the recidivism rate leads me to believe that education is the key to long-term change, not fear based policies.
Texas is debating how to deal with the problem and several of the state legislators have asked what behaviors constitute bullying? We don't even have national definition at this point. If there's as much bullying going on as we've been told, where are we going to put all these kids; jail or alternative schools? Does your state have that kind of money? Mine sure doesn't. Are these bad people or are they young people who need more education and intervention? If they need more training, how do we give it to them in a way that makes sense given the test based pressures of today's educational environment?
Finally, what is the role of social skills education and when should it be implemented; after the bully has been identified or as part of the fabric of education starting as soon as a child walks through our doors? Does the victim need help and if so, what kind of help and intervention do they need? We don't want to blame the victim but we also don't want to create a victim mentality that might follow an individual into later life.
All these questions and more will be part of the Bully Bytes Blog. We'll look at the difference between conflict and bullying and give you tools to identify and work with both issues. We'll give you tools that will help you teach problem solving, motivation, social skills, conflict resolution and help you identify the bullies & victims in your mist. Thanks for your time and remember; punishment won't create the behaviors we want, they have to be taught. If not us, who; if not now, when.