Monday, March 25, 2013

Bullying or Teenage Drama?

Bullying is not anything new. What is new is how we address it. After linking teen suicide to bullying, the school administrations are now feeling pressure from the public to address bullying with a more aggressive approach. Political pressure has increased professional development and bullying programs in the schools but has it changed the mindset of the adults involved?

Recently, a student reported bullying and was told that their situation was normal teenage drama. How did this administrator determine the difference between bullying and teenage drama? Where is the line drawn? Old school mentality ignores teasing and rumors because "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me". I love old school but this mind set has got to change!

In a teenage world, words are devastating.Words are everywhere and can be communicated across the school, city, state, and country within minutes through technology. It can ruin their reputation, cause sleepless crying nights, isolate them from the general population, cause changes in personality, and possibly suicide.

Bullying is ANYTHING that makes an individual uncomfortable that the aggressor is aware of and continues to repeat this behavior on a consistent basis to bully that individual. Teenage drama can be deemed bullying if the same student/s are repeating this behavior consistently against the same individual/s. Training is not covering all aspects of bullying if we still have administrators and teachers telling students to get over it or that its normal teenage drama. What if Child Protective Services only removed children with bruises and ignored the situations where  a child is suffering emotionally? We have to stand up and defend those who are constantly targeted whether it is physical or mental abuse.

Educational professionals need to recognize that the day of "Sticks and Stones" are over. If a student reports bullying, don't tell them to get over it, don't expose their problem to the class, just take the time to listen and care about them. Report it to your campus principal and counselor. The counselor should visit with the student and care for their emotional well being while the principal addresses the bullying. Then be vigilant to watch out for that student. They need to feel supported, safe, and cared for. If not, we are responsible for the loss of life; whether it is taken through suicide or diminished self worth.

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