Monday, October 11, 2010

October Is Bullying Prevention Month

Last spring, I bought a paperback version of the Jeffery Deaver novel Roadside Crosses to take with me on a trans-Atlantic cruise. My traveling companion absconded with the novel, however, and only returned it to me last week. Consequently, I’m now about halfway through the book, the third in Deaver’s high-tech trilogy, which deals with a teen’s murderous revenge on the cyberbullies who’ve been tormenting him.

As engrossing as Deaver’s stories always are, I put down that book for a few hours this weekend to visit my dentist’s office, where I picked up a recent copy of People Magazine. That particular issue featured on the cover photographs of young people who’ve taken their own lives recently, apparently at least partially driven to suicide by the trauma of cyberbullying.

This morning, I arrived at work to find among my emails, a message from the Center for Social and Emotional Education (CSEE) about BullyBust, a program designed to “help schools put an end to bullying with targeted school-wide and classroom-based efforts.”

And then, of course, October is National Bullying Prevention Month.

The muses, it seems, are conspiring to induce me to write about bullying this week. And why not? According to CSEE, “almost 30 percent of youth in the United States (more than 5.7 million students) are estimated to be involved in bullying as a bully, a target of bullying or both, and at least 10 percent of students are bullied on a regular basis.” And according to iSafe, “42 percent of kids have been bullied at least once while online” and “53 percent of kids admit having said something mean or hurtful to another person online at least once.”

I’m not going to tell you that bullying -- whether it takes place on the school playground or the cyber playground -- is bad, and ultimately destructive to both bully and bullied. I’d just be preaching to the choir. I am, however, going to remind you that, whether you see it or not, bullying is happening to your students every day -- in your classroom, in your hallways, on your playground, at your bus stops and street corners, and online. Be aware of it. Lobby for a school-wide program of bullying prevention, if you don’t already have one. If you do have one, however, don’t rely on it alone to keep the students in your classroom safe. Create and maintain a climate of kindness in your classroom and encourage your students to carry that spirit outside the classroom as well.

If you aren’t sure where to start, some of these resources can help:

Bullies to Buddies: A Psychological Solution to Bullying. The resources at this site, which are primarily geared toward the victims of bullies, include humorous videos and role play.

Bullying Special Theme Page. This page features all the Education World articles, lessons, and other resources on bullying -- an extensive collection. from the Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use. Nancy Willard’s CSRIU features common sense resources on cyberbullying for parents and educators. Check out the new Digital Desiderata.

iSafe Cyberbullying Statistics and Tips. i-SAFE is a non-profit foundation whose mission is to educate and empower youth to make their Internet experiences safe and responsible.

J. Richard Knapp Bully Prevention Newsletter. This free bully prevention newsletter for parents and educators features authors, video links, and more.

Olweus Bullying Prevention Program. Created by Dan Olweus, this is one of the oldest, best known, and most respected bullying prevention programs. This national public education campaign for teens uses games and videos to raise awareness of teen dating abuse.

If you know of any other online resources about bullying or cyberbullying, please share them with your colleagues in the Comment section of this blog.

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