EducationWorld Q&A columnist Dr. Matthew Lynch is an associate professor of education at Langston University. Dr. Lynch provides expert advice on everything from classroom management to differentiated instruction. Read all of his columns here, and be sure to submit your own question.
|Dr. Matthew Lynch|
This week, reader Larry V. asks:
I am a middle school teacher in a large urban school district in Florida. Like many districts throughout the United States, we are working to combat bullying in our schools. Do you have any tips or strategies to share with us?
Unfortunately, Larry, bullying is a common problem in schools. Most children have either been bullied or known someone who has been bullied.
Bullying behavior was once considered normal for kids and was not treated seriously. Now, however, teasing and bullying are seen as serious issues that can cause psychological damage in those on the receiving end.
Both boys and girls bully others, although generally in different ways. Boys tend to be more physical, whereas girls tend to engage in social and psychological bullying.
Whether teachers are dealing with traditional forms of bullying, cyber bullying, or a combination of the two, it is crucial that they understand the issues involved. When it comes to cyber bullying, teachers need to understand the technology used for cyber bullying and how it works. It is essential to bring the problem of bullying into the open where it cannot be ignored.
Another method used to decrease bullying is civility training, which builds compassion, kindness, empathy and community building. This is often done through offering historical examples of positive behaviors and helping students “walk in another’s shoes”—for example, by spending a day in a wheelchair.
Sadly, in some schools, bullying goes unreported by victims and witnesses. Students are, however, more likely to come forward in schools where there is a strong sense of community. Teachers can play an instrumental role in creating safer schools for all children by teaching behaviors that facilitate a strong sense of community.
At the end of the day, combating bullying is all about diligently confronting the problem, letting bullying students know that the behavior will not be tolerated, and letting those being bullied know that you have their back. I am actually considering writing a book on the subject of bullying, so stay in touch and let me know how things go.
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