The End of Bullying Begins with you!
Bullying is aggressive behavior that is intentional and involves an imbalance of power or strength. It is a repeated behavior and can be physical, verbal, or relational. While boys may bully others using more physical means; girls often bully others by social exclusion. Bullying has been part of school, and even workplaces, for years. More recently, though, technology and social media have created a new venue for bullying that has expanded its reach. Cyberbullying is bullying that happens online and via cell phones. Websites like Facebook, MySpace, Tumblr and Formspring allow kids to send hurtful, ongoing messages to other children 24 hours a day. Some sites, such as Tumblr and Formspring allow messages to be left anonymously.
Preventing and stopping bullying involves a commitment to creating a safe environment where children can thrive, socially and academically, without being afraid.
But what happens when teachers are the targets of bullying?Editor’s Note: The author of this next part wishes to remain anonymous.
Identifying the bullying gave me direction and helped me put my self-doubt to rest. I started drawing parallels between my story and the bullying incidents I stopped in the school hallways and in my classroom. I realized that the same rules and ideas we give our kids to prevent and stop bullying apply to adult situations as well. And I started gathering my resources.
Bullying victims need allies. When I’m helping a student deal with bullying, I address the situation with school administrators and the guidance department to develop a comprehensive plan. I also provide the student with resources like the GLSEN website or novels like The Revealers. When targets of bullying feel supported, they are better able to empower themselves.
Armed with this knowledge, I sought out my own network of allies. From my research I knew that the principals and superintendent were responsible for ensuring a safe environment, so I called meetings with both. Although it didn’t create instantaneous change, I felt relieved I had taken a step to protect myself.
I also thought about the companionship and space I extend to my students who experience bullying; validation helps them to feel visible and stay solution oriented. To this end, I leaned on friends and family to help me remember who I was outside of school. They reminded me not to neglect my hobbies. They helped me laugh even when I felt it impossible. And they reminded me of the many times I’d helped others in my community.
Just like kids, teachers need peers to stand up and speak out. Principals and administrators can help by discussing adult bullying and implementing Speak Up training for youth and staff. In my case, a colleague who stood up for me publicly later asked me to be a witness for her in a harassment incident. This kind of support helps not only in the moment, but can help sustain us during what can be long struggles.
Many teachers who experience bullying simply leave; others detach so much from their work that their students suffer. I hope that including adult-on-adult bullying in our discussion during National Bullying Prevention Month and throughout the year can support a more comprehensive approach to creating (and modeling) supportive school climates for everyone. It behooves school leadership to protect the entire educational community from bullying—teachers included.
That last paragraph stands out.
It behooves school leadership to protect the entire educational community from bullying—teachers included.
This statement has tremendous meaning in SD81. There has been, and still is pervasive environment of bullying, and it has gone on unchecked for to long, in this particular situation its from a parent or parents towards the staff of School District 81, but how do you stop the bullying from a parent towards a teacher, or the administration? How much help can the Superintendent and Principles be to the staff when they are bullied themselves by the same people? The help should then fall on the School Board to defend, and protect the staff from such activities so that they can concentrate on the job at hand. The School Board shouldn’t be aiding the bully in his attempts to ruin the educating of our future!
Bullying can be stopped. It takes an entire community to stand up and speak out! Some times that community is as small as a school classroom, and some times it is as big as a town! Enough is enough!