Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Are We a Culture of Bullies?

           This week has been designated as the annual "No Name-Calling Week" in the schools, a week meant to encourage educational dialogue and activities designed to address the issue of bullying.  This post is my small effort to enter into that dialogue.
           During the past few weeks several newspaper articles have dealt with this issue.  Some have examined incidents of bullying (one including the suicide of the victim).  For statistics on the relationship between suicide and bullying, see
           Other articles have concentrated on the attempts by school districts or state legislatures to combat bullying in the schools.

           As a parent, teacher, and citizen, I am as concerned about the bully as I am about the victim, who are often, by the way, one and the same.  I know that bullying is a learned behavior, but I am not sure where and how children learn it.  When I see "approved" bullying on the national news (e.g., in the current political campaigns), much of which is applauded, I can't help but wonder about the modeling this provides for children and adolescents.

           I am also aware that some may read this and say, "Here we go again."  A few years ago, one college freshman told my class that the problem was not with bullies but with the whining sissies who reported them.  I was not so shocked by the comment as I was by the lack of any outcry from his fellow students.

           For some good resources for teachers, parents and pupils on this topic, see:

           Also, here are some references I've found helpful. 
1) Sanders, C.E. (2004).  What is bullying?  In C.E. Sanders & G.D. Phye (Eds.). Bullying: Implications for the classroom (pp. 1-16). San Diego: Elsevier Academic Press.  (NB: Two appendices list the most prevalent characteristics of bullies and victims)

2) Shariff, S. (2008).  Cyber-bullying: Issues and solutions for the school, the classroom  and the home.  New York: Routledge.

3) Losey, B. (2011).  Bullying, suicide, and homicide: Understanding, assessing, and preventing threats to self and others for victims of bullying.  New York: Routledge.

4) Espelage, D.L. & Swearer, S.M. (Eds.).  (2010). Bullying in North American Schools.  (2nd ed.) New York: Routledge.

5) Jimerson, S.R., Swearer, S.M., & Espelage, D.L. (Eds.).  (2009). Handbook of bullying in schools: An international perspective.

6) Patchin, J.W., & Hinduja, S. (Eds.).  (2011). Cyberbullying prevention and response: Expert perspectives. New York: Routledge.

7) Coloroso, B. (2009). The bully, the bullied, and the bystander: From preschool to high school: How parents and teachers can help break the cycle of violence. New York: Harper Collins

           Please comment.  How do you think we can make our homes, schools and communities safer?  How do you think bullying gets started?  How do you think it can be stopped?  In line with my earlier blog on "accentuating the positive," is there some pro-social approach that ought to be taken?  I really hope to hear from some parents, some teachers, and especially some students.