Posts tagged bullying prevention
Last week, we offered a Tech Retreat for our 7th and 8th grade students. This day included a total break from regular classes. Instead, students participated in small group activities, heard a panel of speakers from our community, and learned about brain health and screen time. To learn more about how we structured the day and to hear feedback from students, please click on my school’s Blog below.
Not long ago, a national organization that provides mental health services for school-aged children posted an open question for followers on its social media page: You witness a student being bullied; what do you do?
Hundreds of people responded right away. The majority of their answers focused squarely on punishing the child who bullied—most with the type of language that would shock the very children they felt so strongly about protecting. “Shame the bully!” responded one teacher, who boasted that her 22 years of classroom experience validated her answer. “Kick the kid out of school,” demanded a professional counselor.
If social media is a reliable barometer of public opinion, it seems clear that the knee-jerk solution to the problem of bullying is hostility and vengeance. The response is understandable: adults who were bullied during their own youth often feel a strong urge to protect the current generation of young people from the same kind of abuse. Likewise, many adults feel justice is best served when aggressors are punished for their wrongdoing.
Yet the problem with bullying prevention strategies that center on the behavior of kids who bully is that they leave targeted kids in a powerless position, assuming that their lives will only get better if the child who bullies changes his/her ways. In fact, in their landmark study, Davis and Nixon (2010) found that adult actions aimed at changing the behavior of children who bully are actually more likely to make things worse for their victims—not better.
Bullying Prevention strategies that shift their focus to building positive social skills in all young people achieve better results. Read the rest of my post on Psychology Today.
Please share the post with educators, administrators, parents, and caregivers that you believe can benefit from this info.
Earlier this month, I had the honor of being interviewed by The Native Society, an online global health & wellness platform. Here’s a piece of our conversation:
Signe Whitson: author, international educator on Bullying Prevention, & Director of Counseling, The Swain School in Pennsylvania
Signe Whitson is an author, international educator on Bullying Prevention, and Director of Counseling at The Swain School in Pennsylvania. In her articles, books, and workshops, Signe provides down-to-earth, practical advice for navigating the daily challenges of living and working with children, tweens and teens. As a mother of two daughters, Signe relates to parents on a personal level. She is also the Chief Operating Officer of the Life Space Crisis Intervention Institute, an international training and certification program for turning crisis situations into learning opportunities for children and youth with chronic patterns of self-defeating behaviors.
What Do I Do Best?
Since I was young, I could always count on having the perfect response or comeback…ten minutes after it was needed in a situation. As a writer, on the other hand, I’m better able to collect my thoughts and present them in-the-moment. I can’t say I love writing, but I do love having written and think I am most effective when I use the written word to share knowledge, insights, and strategies for helping young people cope with conflict, manage anger, and solve social problems.
What makes me the best version of myself?
Coffee and red wine?
Or maybe compassion, empathy, and a determination to look beyond surface behavior and aim to understand the thoughts and feelings that underlie a young person’s actions.
Probably a combination of all of the above.
For more of the interview, please visit:
8 Keys to End Bullying: Strategies for Parents & Schools is now available in Spanish! I have a small number of review copies available if you live or work in a community or school that would benefit from this resource. Leave me a comment below, if interested in receiving a translated copy!
Looking for ideas to help prepare your child, tween, or teen to successfully navigate challenging peer dynamics, conflict, and bullying? Check out what readers–including this School Psychologist and Mom of 3–are saying about the 8 Keys to End Bullying Activity Book:
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Resource
By: Amazon Customeron August 18, 2017
I LOVE this book! As a school psychologist and mother of 3, ages 11-16, this is an incredible resource. The book is divided into 8 “Keys” in order to learn what bullying behavior looks like, how to deal with it, and how to be an advocate to end it. There are realistic examples with opportunities for kids to process how they would handle each situation, in addition to answer keys and clear cut phrases/actions that kids could use if put into similar situations. I particularly loved that the author included a chapter on how our brains work in stress situations, using simple enough language for young ones to understand the difference between the limbic system (which controls our emotional response) and pre-frontal cortex (our thinking brain). I highly recommend this book to educators and parents of kids and tweens in order to help their children learn healthy ways to navigate their social worlds.
Bullying among school-aged children is a pervasive problem in the United States. If there was a magic wand, one-size-fits-all solution to the problem, it would have been suggested and implemented long ago. You wouldn’t be thinking about it and I wouldn’t be writing about it. Bringing an end to bullying involves comprehensive school culture shifts as well as convincing young people (and the adults in their lives!) to use social power fairly and justly, at all times. Changing human dynamics, as we all know, is neither easy nor swift.
That’s the bad news.
The good news is that time-consuming, complicated solutions are trumped each and every day by the small, powerful acts that trustworthy adults can use to signal to individual kids that their dignity is paramount and that their safety will be prioritized.
At the risk of oversimplifying a very complex issue among young people, but at the hope of creating a go-to roadmap for educators, counselors, youth workers, and parents, this article I just posted on PsychologyToday offers 6 simple strategies for upgrading our approach to bullying in schools. Please check it out and share with professionals and parents who are looking for guidance in this area.
Many thanks to Michael McKnight from New Jersey for this feedback on Friendship & Other Weapons:
“As a long time school administrator this is an exceptional resource to add to any prevention program and is tailored to girls. Often we neglect this group and the activities and resources in this book are an excellent addition to any bully prevention program!”
(Get your copy today at http://www.amazon.com/Friendship-Other-Weapons-Activities-Bullying/product-reviews/184905875X/ref=cm_cr_dp_synop?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=0&sortBy=bySubmissionDateDescending#R2TCI7531ZY40P)
I first wrote this article in 2012, but continue to share this story in many of my workshops as a real-life example of how friendship can be used as a weapon and what adults need to know to help kids maintain their voices and effectively navigate the waters of peer conflict in schools:
My heart is heavy after reading this story about Ashlynn Conner, a 10-year old child who hung herself. According to her parents, Ashlynn was relentlessly bullied in school.
I always wonder about the bully and what motivates someone to be relentlessly cruel. I ache for kids like Ashlynn who are hopeless, and see no light at the end of the tunnel. And I think about all of the other kids in her world who knew about the aggression she was facing.
Even having written a book on the subject, I don’t pretend to have any simple answers about how to stop bullying. It’s a complicated problem and intervention has to occur on multiple levels. That’s jargon for: we’ve got a LOT of work to do! What I do know, though, is that fostering compassion is one of the most important missing links when it comes to creating a climate in which bullying becomes unacceptable.
In this recent HuffingtonPost article, I wrote about 7 ways that parents and nurturing adults can help kids become more compassionate. I think it’s a mistake to assume that kids are either compassionate or they’re not. Big hearts can be nurtured and compassionate kids hold a critically important key in creating cultures where bullying is not tolerated.
Whenever I talk with groups of kids about bullying, I share this mantra: It is never OK to do nothing about bullying. I have kids repeat the phrase. I encourage them to shout it. Sometimes, we see if the whole building can hear us! I want kids to remember this truism.
Today, after reading Ashlynn’s story, another set of words–this time from Albert Einstein–are echoing in my head:
“The world is a dangerous place not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.”