I think I’ve made it abundantly clear how much I dislike the “training the victims” part of any “anti-bullying” program. First, anytime you do “anti-bullying” training WHOLE GROUP then both the bullies and the victims get the same message. However, since they are equipped with different operating systems, how they process that message is completely different. This is why I call it “training” the victim. We make it their problem, we blame them for being bullied, we blame their emotions and their actions, and finally we put together a list of “actions” they are to take when being bullied before they should seek about any sort of protection. The bully, of course, starts looking for ways to manipulate the system.
I think we should just be honest. We can’t keep students safe from mean, obnoxious people. In fact, we’re going to make those students go through hoops so that they can feel victimized by both the system and the bully. Then when “the victims” go AWOL, we’ll act surprised. After all, this “training” is our “school or district plan” for dealing with bullies. ‘Cause if you want to be honest, we CANNOT control another person’s behavior. We can only hope that the “consequences” will make it unpleasant enough for them to control themselves. Fact is, the bullies are actively weighing any/all consequences against the power they feel controlling other people. You better have some pretty amazing consequences up your sleeve to combat this kind of thinking or the bully’s ability to endure punishment. Plus, as I’ve pointed out before, bullies are your biggest cry-babies on the planet. They will find a way to “spin” the story to get themselves out of trouble. They’re being VICTIMIZED. Boo-hoo. Trust me, it works…
My son’s school is about to begin a program called ABC Reading. It’s not a bad program. It has some nice little activities. However, the FIRST book for each year is… Simon’s Hook. The idea being that when people tease or make fun of you, you should: do little or nothing, agree with the hook, change the subject, laugh or make a joke, swim away. Seriously? First, you would engage in a conversation with someone working to make you feel bad? As teachers, when students complain about these behaviors, we would simply say something like, “I see you got hooked.” OK, nice way to say, “I don’t care.”
As adults we need to teach each other and our children to use their words and their voices. Stand up to the person and tell that person to stop, that you don’t like it. It’s very hard to teach kids not to smile during this (sends the WRONG message) and that they need to make eye-contact during this time. They need to use strong voices. They need to be willing to stand up. You have no idea how scared TERRIFIED they are to do this. That means that we need to help them do this. We need to GUIDE them. And then we need to have back-up plans for when that doesn’t work.
Because, here’s the thing about the world. It’s populated with bullies who don’t necessarily stop just because they’ve been told to.