The solution is much more than what’s being taught
Bullying is extremely complex and fragile with much still unknown. Since a real focus on finding a solution to bullying began a few decades ago, a lot has been emphasized about zero tolerance policies with little evidence to prove these policies are working. This idea is mainly focused on half the equation, the elimination of bullying. I realized a few years ago we are never going to eliminate all bullies and thus all bullying. I realized there was this “other” side of the bullying education coin. I started writing “Bernie Gets Bullied” with this in mind. The bullies were in the minority and yet they were winning, this had to change.
What is the “other” side of the bullying coin
Ashley Strickland a producer with CNN recently wrote an article that referred to bullying as “a serious public health issue”. Other “serious” public health issues include, obesity, drugs, smoking, HIV, heart attack and stroke to name a few. The point is, bullying is starting to be shared in the same breath as these other well-known and very “serious” public health issues. It’s really time to get more focused on how to understand and correct this “serious” public health issue. Of course when approaching complex situations and tasks there are generally many angles by which it can be looked at. This is certainly the case when it comes to bullying. There is the bully, the bullied and bullying as a whole. When BULLYING started to become more and more of a focused societal problem, as is often the case, people automatically jumped to try to eliminate it altogether. This is understandable and commendable, but this put the focus solely on the starting point of bullying, the BULLY.
The bully is a major focal point of the larger BULLYING problem, but again, it is only a portion of the problem. The “other” side of the BULLYING coin is the victim. The BULLIED is the key to solving the overall underlying issue of bullying. Why not tool and teach the victims how to handle and react to a bullying situation? Be it them personally or an event they are witnessing, let’s change the no bullying message to focus on standing up. The bottom line is bullying is so very wrong and hurtful, THAT is something we can all agree upon. It is now time to start concentrating more on the bullied rather than the bully.
I’ve touched briefly on Bernie’s Basics in a previous post. Bernie’s Basics are six simple principles I’ve developed on how the BULLIED can approach a BULLYING situation. I like to say they are so simple even a four-year old can understand. The reason I designed them on this basis is because “Bernie Gets Bullied” is written for the age group of four to six years old. I believe if we truly want to change the tides of bullying, we have to change the conversation. What exactly does encourage bravery mean? It means that being afraid is perfectly okay. We need to turn that fear into bravery and utilize that bravery to push forward. Being brave doesn’t mean you need to face your fears by yourself. Being brave also means asking for help. Especially in a bullying situation, asking for help is definitely the preferred solution to resolution. Also important is to not be brave from a distance. This means that if we happen to witness a bullying situation which involves someone else, we should not idly sit by and allow that someone to be bullied.
Where do we go from here
Now that it is clear there is more to learn and do when it comes to making real changes to the growing bullying issue, where do we go from here? We need to start teaching the message of standing up to a bully and for yourself at a much earlier age. I believe this education starts at a preschool level. I think if we wait to start teaching the anti-bully message in the latter elementary grade levels or even middle school, we are forever going to be playing catch up and ultimately will face a constant growing issue. We need to grab kids’ attention and continue to teach the stand up message early and often throughout their formal educational years. The message needs to be strong, consistent and simple. Only the bullied can eliminate bullying.
It is definitely something we need to bring to the classroom, but even more importantly we need to start having these conversations at home, early and often. The more we talk to our kids, the more comfortable they will feel coming to us first. It really is a simple message and it’s time to spread that message together. Bullying is not okay. In any form, to anybody at anytime. Don’t accept that the bully is going to get help and learn to change their behavior. Their satisfaction comes from hurting others; but if nobody allows themselves to get hurt their can be no bully satisfaction. “Join The Stampede” and stand up to bullies. Share your #berniesbuddies and show the world you have no room for bullying in your life.