In light of the focus on bullying that has come as a result of Amanda Todd’s heart breaking story depicting the path that led her to put an end to the pain and feeling of helplessness she endured for so many years, our class devoted much time and discussion to this urgent topic. I, like every educator or parent reading this, find myself faced with the issue of bullying on a regular basis which can feel extremely frustrating. However, this time around, I decided to take the topic further.
As we read picture books, learned about real life stories, analyzed the roles of the bully, victim, and bystander, and thought about what creates the mentality of a bully and the victims, we came to the realization that the knowledge and understanding we need to effectively deal with this issue lies within us. We looked at ourselves, our care givers, the media, and our lifestyle to find the answers.
Earlier in the week, the government announced that a task force would be created to study this on-going issue on a deeper level in order to come up with strategies and recommendations to support the need for action. I would like to save the government hundreds of thousands of dollars by sharing what my Grade Six Bullying Task Force created within the span of five days. Keeping in mind that I am referring to a group of 30 ten and eleven year-olds, the experience was quite simply enlightening.
In a nutshell (and using “big words”), the main ideas discussed included the following:
- we have all experienced the roles of being the bully, the victim, and the bystander. Maybe one role has been more dominant so far, but if we take a careful look, we’ve taken on each of these roles at some point in our lives.
- our upbringing and experiences with our care givers have a significant impact on the roles we choose to take on. No one is born a bully or victim. Both come to be as a result of the words, emotions, and actions we are exposed to as we begin to make sense of the world.
- we have a choice about the roles we take on in life. The power lies within us to choose whether we will be a bully, a victim, a bystander, or none of the above. Kids need to learn how their thoughts create their reality.
- education through self-awereness is the most powerful way to unravel our ideas, beliefs, and feelings with respect to how we treat others and would like to be treated. This will not work if educators and care givers continue to give a “time-out” to those who bully and pat on the back with sympathy to those who are victims.
- we need to educate the ones who bully (including their care givers!) through self-awareness, empower the ones who are victims by working on their inner belief system, and hold accountable those who decide not to make a positive decision to change by taking legal action that has an impact on their future.