How to stop a bully?
I recently had a conversation with a little five year old boy about his aggressive behavior. He stated that the only way to make people listen when they do something you don’t like is to hit them. He said that talking doesn’t work, and that he learned in school (first grade, sad isn’t it?) that the only way to get “respect” is to hit first.
In a recent op-ed piece in the New York Times entitled There’s Only One Way to Stop a Bully the discussion centers around a new state law in Massachusetts which requires schools to address the problem and provides financial incentives to implement anti-bullying programs. It states that all but six states in the US have implemented such legislation. It cites the recent endictment of a group of students who bullied a 15 year old girl, resulting in her suicide. Not a new story, to be sure.
“In a 1995 study in Canada, researchers placed video cameras in a school playground and discovered that overt acts of bullying occurred at an astonishing rate of 4.5 incidents per hour. Just as interesting, children typically stood idly by and watched the mistreatment of their classmates — apparently, the inclination and ability to protect one another and to enforce a culture of tolerance does not come naturally. These are values that must be taught. ”
The authors of the piece suggest that there should be more comprehensive efforts to teach these values than just purchasing canned programs and putting them on a shelf. “As an essential part of the school curriculum, we have to teach children how to be good to one another, how to cooperate, how to defend someone who is being picked on and how to stand up for what is right. ”
These are lofty goals, but what might be specific methods to teach such behaviors, which seem to be so hard-wired into people at a very young age? What would you see as effective methods to reverse the age-old problems with children bulling one another? And do you think that if we as a society can incorporate these values early in childhood development, it could possibly decrease violence, and some of our rampant criminal behavior, in society as a whole?