Thursday, October 7, 2010

Putting an End to Bullying

This week was the start of national Bullying Awareness month. The media is filled with stories about recent tragic cases in which children, teens and even a college student have taken their lives as a result of bullying. I want to write a little about it because bullying is an issue that comes up again and again in my work. From my viewpoint if unaddressed bullying can have a far-reaching impact on a person’s life.

In my peer mediation/conflict resolution counseling group we help kids work on controlling their anger and avoiding conflicts and of course bullying comes up a lot in this dialogue.

Just last week I was called into a class for a crisis intervention which ended up relating to bullying. A female student slapped another student and I was brought in to speak with her individually to find out her side of the story. The first thing she said was “Miss, I can’t help it. I was born like this.”

"No one is just born like this. Something must have happened beforehand,” I said to her. She started sobbing. Through the sobs she told me how the girl she had hit bullied her relentlessly throughout middle school and now that they were in high school she had to be tough and “fight back”. I let her know how much I respected her for telling me about the bullying because I knew it was difficult to speak about. I’m actually already planning to counsel this student to get her attendance up, but we’ll also speak about bulling since I can see now this is something that is impacting her behavior and most likely was a cause of her low attendance and subsequently her poor academic performance too.

This just goes to show how bullying can impact a person if unaddressed. A victim can act out in a violent incident, become a bully herself or get so depressed she takes her life. I think we’ve got to teach kids to have more empathy for each other and a sense of responsibility for their behavior in order stop bullying and no longer look at it as a normal part of growing up.

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