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Bullies and Bystanders

My school is one of many undertaking an aggressive anti-bullying campaign. Last week we kicked off this effort with a Respect for All Rally. Earlier this week, we had visitors from a group called Making Books Sing. I really admired the energy and creative approach they brought to the bullying discussion. Unfortunately, what I saw from my kids was less uplifting.

The volunteers acted out an exchange between a bully and her victim. The bully wrote a nasty note and a nasty message on the board, bringing her victim to tears. My kids hooted and howled at the note. They thought it was hilarious.

Later, the visitors solicited suggestions for how the victim could stop the bully. Ignore her, tell a teacher, and tell her how she feels were popular suggestions. I was happy to hear those lessons of mine had stuck. But also popular, and much more enthusiastically shared, were hit her and write something mean about her.

The takeaway from the visit was that everyone in a community is responsible for stopping bullying. The kids learned the words bullying, empathy and bystander. However, after watching my kids reactions to the skit, I was wondered how much one lesson could do to change their behavior. Clearly, there’s a lot of work left to do.

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