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Glendale Middle Schooldoesn't exactly have a stellar reputation.  It serves a community with a sizable population of immigrants and refugees, as well as being in traditionally economically disadvantaged area.  Throughout the last century, the Glendale neighborhood has had a reputation as a working class and immigrant community.  Beginning in the 1970s, it developed a reputation for having high crime rates.  Large parts of the area's housing are bungalows from the 30s and 40s with some later homes squeezed in.  In the 1990s and 2000s, several tracts of new housing were built in the era's distinctive beige stucco, peaked roof style.  The school's reputation mirrors the neighborhood's.

Last night, Glendale Middle School's principal, John Erlacher, supported by the Salt Lake City school board (several members of the board attended), held the first of what will be a series of community discussionson bullying.  To his credit, the Principal Erlacher did not wait until there was an issue with bullying or until there were high profile incidents of bullying to hold this gathering.  This simple decision has put the school ahead of the game on the issue of bullying.  (I'm not suggesting there's no bullying in the school, simply that what bullying is happening hasn't reached a crisis point.)

I'm going to first give a description of what happened at this public gathering, then discuss conclusions and ideas, and finally suggest what I see as a path forward.

What happened

Parents, students and residents were invited to attend.  The gathering began at six and the principal made good use of the school's infrastructure, sending buses on several routes to pick up attendees.  He planned for and ordered pizza to be delivered at six.  He also brought in two skilled and experienced facilitators to host the meeting.  Carla Kelley of the Human Rights Education Center of Utah; Carla has extensive experience working with teens around diversity and anti-bullying initiatives.  Last summer, she used grant money to host Playback Theatre in which teens not only examined the ways in which bullying happens and its effects but also came up with ways to confront bullying.  Carla drafted a mutual friend and colleague - Tenneson Woolf.  Tenneson is an experienced host and facilitator.  He works with a wide variety of organizations on a wide variety of issues, mostly managing change.  Tenneson has worked for years with Berkana, whose motto "Whatever the problem, community is the answer" is a personal favorite.  Tenneson is extremely skilled at bringing communities together and helping them choose what to do when they don't know what to do using a variety of methods of participatory leadership.

The evening began at about six with pizza dinner.  Most of the group, that is people middle school age and above, moved into the school gym and formed a circle for a few minutes of "play."  In this context, play usually means activities that engage us in moving around and connecting with one another in easy ways.  As for example, we started in a circle, then were instructed to cross the circle.  On each crossing, we added different components, such as look five people in the eye as you cross the circle, or touch elbows with five people as you cross the circle.  These activities - very simple, easy to lead and requiring nothing more than some space - help people move into a more open-minded and open hearted space for discussion.

After a few minutes of circle activity, attendees were invited to take seats in groups of five and discuss two questions - what do you value in this community? and what challenges do you feel the community faces?  On yellow/green post its, people recorded challenges, on blue ones what they valued.  Those were posted for all to see on large signs corresponding to the questions.

Attendees identified diversity as both something they valued and one of the challenges.  Last night, there were speakers of six languages - Swahili, Bengal, Nepali, Tongan, Spanish and English.  There were people who were born and raised in the neighborhood and people who were refugees from Africa, immigrants from Africa, Central and South America, Nepal and Bengal and Tonga.  There were students there who are the primary English speakers in their families.  There were people for whom English is their third or fourth language.  

The diversity of cultures and languages is both a tremendous source of richness but also a source of challenge.  One man, an African immigrant, pointed out that in his culture, you show respect by looking down when speaking to someone of higher status (i.e. a boss or school teacher) and that the American habit of looking one another in the eye is very difficult for him.  A woman from Central America pointed out that the simple process of enrolling in school here is very different than in her home country.  She had to visit the school three or four times to do something that would have taken someone familiar with our system one visit.  Another man observed that the parents he deals with often interpret any communication from a teacher as a sign their child is in trouble rather than being updates or invites to events, and that many parents don't understand why they should attend parent teacher conferences.  A teacher in the school pointed out that she recently contravened cultural custom of one of her student without even realizing it and the student believed they were in trouble because of something she never considered.  During the opening play, it was clear that cultural attitudes toward touching differ - several of the women attendees were challenged as they tried to avoid touching men's elbows.  Such taboos and differences can create stumbling blocks that remain hidden until it's too late.

In a modified version of World Cafe, groups were encouraged to scatter, and discuss a third question - what opportunities suggestions for improvement do you see?  Following the earlier pattern, these were recorded on pink post its and put up for all to see.  After these post its were in a public space, our hosts (Tenneson and Carla) got to play Jerry Springer - they carried mics around for attendees to suggest specific improvements that could begin or be taken by the community and the school.  Several suggestions included engaging the whole of the community and family in confronting bullying and for students to appreciate the opportunities the school gave them.  At the end of the evening, there were over 100 post its with specific ideas on the poster in the gym.

What was observed and learned?

The evening ended with a brief harvest - gathering together of ideas and suggestions.  One parent pointed out that ending bullying starts in the home - parents have to confront attitudes that lead to bullying in themselves and their families.  Someone else pointed out that the community as a whole has to engage in efforts to create a respectful community.  One suggestion was specifically to find ways to nurture community diversity (as the speaker put it, we live in a diverse community but only encounter it in spaces like this discussion).  One student spoke up and said students needed to start appreciating and valuing school.  Several parents announced and reminded other parents of weekly parent meetings at the school to nurture the school's supportive and welcoming environment.  The biggest learning was the need to keep the discussion going.

What is the path forward?

Further discussions
1.   Training hosting teams to hold meetings in the community
2.    Identifying cultural differences and ways to establish acceptable behaviors that are mutually respectful of those differences
3.   Bringing adults together over shared meals to build a stronger sense of community
4.   Empowering students to understand and confront bullying
5.   Encouraging the administration, teachers, parents and students to see themselves as a community

The most important thing is to keep up the good work.  You can't solve a problem in 90 minutes.  You can't change the environment so that bullying is minimized in one evening.

In order to engage the whole community, I think the school could call on some of last night's attendees as leaders.  These leaders could work in hosting teams and hold gatherings in their homes or places of worship in which the community discussion is ongoing.  Such home gatherings would further cement the sense of community in the Glendale area.  They would also help community members connect with one another and find ways of communicating across the various divides in the community.  Simply gathering together on a regular basis will create stronger bonds within the community and encourage individuals to see the differences are sources of richness and learning rather than causes of separation.

The Glendale area - and Salt Lake's west side in general - has done a good job of nurturing a sense of community identity.  Other parts of the city (Sugarhouse, the Avenues, Central City), are distinct neighborhoods but have done less intentional work in creating a sense of community identity.  Glendale parents regard their area as a distinct community.  This sense of community provides an excellent starting point for any future initiatives.  Recognizing and naming the cultural differences will provide further support for the community.  The goal in making explicit those cultural differences isn't to demand that people conform to one or another standard, but rather to recognize where stumbling blocks exist and navigate around them in mutually respectful ways.  To take one example - American teachers often interpret downcast eyes as a sign of disrespect or insolence rather than respect. We don't have to demand that students look teachers in the eye so long as their other behaviors are consistent with academic standards and good behavior.

It's easy to fall into the trap of food fairs and festivals when exploring diversity in communities.  Such events are usually well meant but tend to gloss over very real differences.  That doesn't mean that shared meals are a bad idea.  Providing spaces for parents with different cultural, economic and ethnic backgrounds to meet and model respect and tolerance is crucial to imparting those values to children.  Breaking bread together is a powerful experience which can connect us on a human level so that we understand one another without demanding we conform to each other's behavioral expectations.  These shared meals become opportunities to learn mutual respect - times to share our stories with one another.  There's quote something to the effect that you can't fight with someone whose story you know.  Breaking bread together builds bonds that allow us to work together even as we see one another's differences.

Within the school, there's the possibility of mentoring students to become leaders who help one another confront incidents of bullying.   (Yes, I also know that at least some students will look on such efforts with cynicism, distrust and outright hostility - my favorite commentary on that phenomenon is found in the film Heathers in which a teacher tries to host a love in the cafeteria and Veronica cynically tells her to get a job.)  In this case, rather than the usual approach of identifying a few students who become associated with the faculty and administration (i.e. the enemy in middle school), these students could be empowered to work on their own to host discussion forums in which students are able to name and claim their experiences of acceptance and rejection, to talk about their experiences of being bullied or of bullying other students and devise ways to change the environment to make bullying unacceptable and less common.  Empowering students to find ways to reduce bullying will work far better than almost any action initiated by the faculty or administration.

I'm not sure how to fully explain this insight but I'll try.  In the US, teaching is a profession.  As a result, faculty and administrations see themselves as separate from they community in which they teach.  For many parents in Glendale, however, their tradition holds that the teacher is a member of the community, someone who is almost extended family and thus empowered to discipline children as a parent or family member might.  American teachers see their role in the classroom through the lens of professionalization.  This has been mostly a good change - it allows us to establish academic requirements for teaching.  A friend of mine describe the shift in American teaching theory as the move from the sage on the stage to the guide by the side.  The next obvious step is to see the school not so much as a public school but as a community school and that the community in this case is defined two ways - the local area the school serves is the most obvious level of community.  But community can also be defined as those persons who affiliate with the school; you don't need to live in the area to be part of the community.  The teachers who showed up last night get that.  Other faculty and staff can start participating in community in the same way.  It's not so much about working more hours as it is about the ways in which relationships are regarded and maintained.  My relationship with my doctor is very different than my relationship with my pastor.  One is strictly professional and it works fine. But the other is grounded in shared values and respect and shared identity within a community.  I believe if teachers and parents and students see themselves as members of a single, shared community they will be better able to work collaboratively and collegially toward creating a bullying free environment.

That's what I've got today.  I'm sure I'll get other ideas as the week goes on.

Originally posted to glendenb on Fri Mar 09, 2012 at 11:23 AM PST.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  good luck... (6+ / 0-)

    I have worked with kids for quite a few years and fixing the bullying problem has been a year in and year out battle.

    The nicest and most intelligent people are the ones that share my point of view.

    by jbou on Fri Mar 09, 2012 at 11:29:34 AM PST

  •  An excellent diary. nt (5+ / 0-)

    I write the series Confessions of a Retail Worker here on DK. It documents my life in a non-unionized workplace.

    by Lightbulb on Fri Mar 09, 2012 at 11:32:29 AM PST

  •  Many Americans Idolize Bullies. (5+ / 0-)

    Examples are Rush Limbaugh and the infotainers on Fox News and CNN.

    A Good Peasant Is A Silent Peasant - Jesse LaGreca

    by kerplunk on Fri Mar 09, 2012 at 11:45:30 AM PST

    •  Who do you think is actually being a bully in this (0+ / 0-)

      School?

      The training the parents have been doing there also strikes me as irrelivant.

      The only way for a kid to avoid being bullied is to go to a private school were the kids are only there for academics.

      Any disciplinary infractions result in expulsion.

      A Catholic, Jew, Muslim and Buddhist walk into Al Aqsa Mosque. Buddhist immediately exclaims: "excuse me I appear to be in the wrong joke."

      by Salo on Sat Mar 10, 2012 at 05:06:40 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'm guessing there are different types of bully (6+ / 0-)

    And this is all guesswork, just to be clear.  There are bullies of opportunity, kids who do it because they don't perceive a disciplinary downside.  If they see that there are disciplinary consequences, they won't do it.  Then you have the more pathological bullies, who don't care about the consequences, perhaps because they know their parents won't care.  I don't know how you'd deal with those, especially in a society that's reluctant to remove them from the classroom entirely.  Personally I don't share that reluctance.

    But nobody's buying flowers from the flower lady.

    by Rich in PA on Fri Mar 09, 2012 at 11:54:47 AM PST

    •  Expulsion. (0+ / 0-)

      I don't actually see how the training outlined has much to do with curtailing bullying. The teachers generally know who the alpha male bullies are. The weaker kids with brains certainly know. Why not just ask the bespectacled, physically under developed kids who they think the bullies are. Then interview the suspects and make sure they know they are bring watched.  

      A Catholic, Jew, Muslim and Buddhist walk into Al Aqsa Mosque. Buddhist immediately exclaims: "excuse me I appear to be in the wrong joke."

      by Salo on Sat Mar 10, 2012 at 05:10:11 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Sounds like this was quite a fascinating learning (5+ / 0-)

    experience, and one that could be emulated everywhere.  The school is very fortunate to have a forward thinking, creative principal.

    "If you trust you are not critical; if you are critical you do not trust" by our own Dauphin

    by gustynpip on Fri Mar 09, 2012 at 11:59:28 AM PST

    •  For me it's about the wisdom in the room (6+ / 0-)

      The people who came there were parents and students and people working in the community.  The processes used - play and World Cafe - are ways of opening up the discussion so the wisdom in the room emerges.  Before hand, I talked with a school board member who identified a list of challenges - none of those challenges were named by participants in the room.  I don't interpret that to mean the board member was wrong, simply that where you sit changes your view of what's a problem.  The board member, for instance, cited some examples of behaviors in  immigrant families that she saw as a problems but which the families didn't see as challenges - rather simply as coping mechanism.  That to me was an interesting learning. It also suggests the very old notion that those of us on the outside no matter how well intentioned don't always have the right perspective.

      For me it's also about process.  Participatory processes start with the assumption that the solution to problems is about connecting the community to itself.

  •  From my observation (6+ / 0-)

    Parents from many immigrant cultures do see teachers as professionals - too much so. They view teachers as community leaders, people not to be approached unless there is a serious problem of some sort, people not to be questioned, certainly not people to be partners with.

    from a bright young conservative: “I’m watching my first GOP debate…and WE SOUND LIKE CRAZY PEOPLE!!!!”

    by Catte Nappe on Fri Mar 09, 2012 at 12:31:42 PM PST

  •  Sounds like a very positive beginning. I hope you (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    raster44, kait, Only Needs a Beat

    are all able to continue in building this school into a strong community. It could be a lot of fun.

    "Maybe this is how empires die - their citizens just don't deserve to be world leaders anymore." -Kossack Puddytat, In a Comment 18 Sept 2011

    by pixxer on Fri Mar 09, 2012 at 04:34:54 PM PST

  •  It's a powerful diary, thanks. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    raster44, dfarrah, Only Needs a Beat

    This is coming from somebody who endured hideous peer abuse in grades 5-8 (circa 1975-79).

    Definitely, I was set up for it. For reasons I won't go into here--and ones that continue to be corroborated to this day--my home-life with parents and siblings predisposed me, very much, to victimization by peers at school.

    We've come a long way. In my day, the dorks and pariahs and whatnot were noticed as such by the school administration, and pulled out for special counseling. The whole emphasis of that was "helping us not to be such targets for others' cruelty." Excuse me, BULLIES don't need intervention?? What causes them to be cruel??? What is wrong with a community that tolerates such behavior?

    That isolationist, in-groups and out-groups, thinking that gives rise to "popularity" and "unpopularity," also bullying, is breaking down. Thank God.

    Hasn't started a day too soon.

    It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

    by karmsy on Fri Mar 09, 2012 at 05:11:44 PM PST

  •  absolutely a TERRIFIC post!! (5+ / 0-)

    Thank you for your caring and open heartedness (is that a word?).  I found that with my children's experience of being bullied in middle school that the fundamental problem was the attitude of the staff.  They all seemed to regard kids who complained of bullying as a pain in the ass.  There is a county wide policy of anti bullying, requiring the staff to go through a certain process when it was brought to their attention, which required staff to fill out reports and attempt to mediate the problem, a process which the staff hated because it never seemed to change the behaviors.  The mediation process was particularly awful for the victim, because they were required to confront their bully face to face.  Something that is the very last thing a middle school age victim wants to do.  The usual outcome was to treat the victim as if he/she had done something to bring on the bullying, and the staff would often end up meeting out punishment to both the bully and the victim.  It is reminiscent of the way we tend to treat rape victims in this country.  And it sends a clear message that you're on your own, and the people who are supposed to stand up for you are more likely to make the whole mess worse.

    •  I've observed a certain hypocracy in a nearby (0+ / 0-)

      school.  They have a strict enough anti-bullying policy, but I have heard more than one teacher reject bullying reports from kids by calling them tattletales.

      Shy kids who get bullied learn soon enough they are on their own.  They're not going to trust a teacher or the system for resolving bullying to even bring it up.

      The bottom line for me is that what is needed is mutual respect and a climate for people to actively learn that every day.  It isn't just for students either, but also for parents and teachers.

      I'm not liberal. I'm actually just anti-evil, OK? - Elon James White

      by Satya1 on Sat Mar 10, 2012 at 08:54:55 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  In light of the recent (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    raster44, Only Needs a Beat

    publicity about rashes of gay teen suicide and the correlation with the new can't-discuss-teh-gay policy in Utah and some other schools, I find it very heartening that the diarist's school went to such lengths to engage the community on the subject.  But I wonder if anyone discussed the fact that calling someone "gay" is the preferred tactic of school bullies everywhere and this is only possible because the bullies are reflecting the attitudes of the adults in their lives.

    Still enjoying my stimulus package.

    by Kevvboy on Fri Mar 09, 2012 at 05:33:40 PM PST

    •  My son was mercilessly called gay (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Only Needs a Beat

      By a whole class for months. 10 year olds.   Teachers knew and Did nothing. It was affecting his grades. He was isolated. When I found out I threatened the teacher and school with a law suit and told them I'd hound them to hell.
      Problem solved.  The bullying kids were publicly called out and it all stopped. Thing is why do 10year olds even know what gay is? My kid didn't even know. He has a puppy love thing for a girl a few doors up.  

      I also told my son to remember that he didn't have to be friends with these assholes. He had been universally friendly
      before this moment. Which was in part the reason he was picked on.  After he's a bit more worldly wise and understands he can pick n choose friends. Some people arecnot worth your precious time.    

      A Catholic, Jew, Muslim and Buddhist walk into Al Aqsa Mosque. Buddhist immediately exclaims: "excuse me I appear to be in the wrong joke."

      by Salo on Sat Mar 10, 2012 at 05:23:17 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  consider (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kait

    bringing the parents in at the first instance ( the bully's parents) and ask them where their child learned that behavior, had they ever been bullied by other kids or siblings, had they talked about being bullied themselves or asked for help;

    put it on the parents - - every instance - - bring the parents and if they won't come in; the bully should be given a choice of being transfered, expelled or to come to counseling & detension to learn how clean the slate;

    is that too much?

    I've never seen a time when the GOP haven’t tried to hide the ball, Well they’re not hiding the ball any more. - V.P. Joe Biden

    by anyname on Fri Mar 09, 2012 at 06:55:26 PM PST

    •  No, it's not too much... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      anyname

      I am now involved in the effort to pass anti-workplace bullying legislation.

      These bullies need to be stopped when they are young.  [not that any intervention will help the sociopathic ones, but it's better than nothing]

      The banks have a stranglehold on the political process. Mike Whitney

      by dfarrah on Fri Mar 09, 2012 at 07:04:53 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I read the title and then the post (0+ / 0-)

    and all I can think is what a mess our schools are.

    Touching elbows and having meetings does nada.

    Unless teachers want to stop bullying it won't happen, often teachers are the instigators, they have their pets, they ostracize the kids they don't like, the students they don't like are the ones it's safe to bully.

    Community meetings with many interesting cultures is lots of fun, now what are you going to do about bullying.

    I give up on our public school system. What a colossal mess.

    "Slip now and you'll fall the rest of your life" Derek Hersey 1957-1993

    by ban nock on Fri Mar 09, 2012 at 07:06:19 PM PST

    •  It's called private school. (0+ / 0-)

      Public schools are overrun with rotten "kids".

      It's getting worse now as a number of school districts are losing accreditation. They are losing it because they will not
      discipline as much as they are dealing with low academic
      talent kids already.

      A Catholic, Jew, Muslim and Buddhist walk into Al Aqsa Mosque. Buddhist immediately exclaims: "excuse me I appear to be in the wrong joke."

      by Salo on Sat Mar 10, 2012 at 05:28:52 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  This is an insidious problem (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kait, Only Needs a Beat

    that my son has dealt with often. Sometimes when he tells an adult about a bullying problem, he is listened to and corrective action is taken, but often he is considered "part of the problem" and forced to apologize or is even more strongly punished. Once he was "written up" for threatening a child by shaking his fist at them after they repeatedly ridiculed him and threatened him. Just today he was called "fatter than the three pigs" among other things. (He is NOT obese, BTW) The teacher forced my kid to apologize to the bully because my child had called him a jerk in an attempt to get him to stop. It is no wonder that bullying behavior persists. There has been a unilateral disarmament, and kids that follow the rules and try to do the right thing are penalized. There is truly no way for a kid to defend their self in school, and teachers generally take the "both are guilty" approach. Can you imagine having to apologize to someone after they had publicly humiliated you in this way?  Is it no wonder why children do not reach out to adults to help them with these situations?

    •  Poor kid. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Only Needs a Beat, science geek

      Teachers are not much use. They have one arm tied behind their backs.

      When I was in elementary school Paddy Fox was the bully kid. He always pushed kids around. One day we happened to
      be walking in opposite directions between two desks. Normally (the smaller kid) I'd have got out the way. I just stood there, he scowled at me gestured something rude.  Everyone in class looked up...including the teacher.
      I just stood there trebbling. He shoved my shoulder. I just stood there. Paddy clenched his fists. I decked him. Room gasped.  I didn't get in trouble! Today I'd have been expelled.  Later the teacher said thanks, he'd wanted to do that to Paddy himself for months. Hahaha. Paddy is now doing hard time for burglary.  

      A Catholic, Jew, Muslim and Buddhist walk into Al Aqsa Mosque. Buddhist immediately exclaims: "excuse me I appear to be in the wrong joke."

      by Salo on Sat Mar 10, 2012 at 05:37:32 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Violence begins (0+ / 0-)

    with the behavior and the 'take away' lessons learned in homes, the schools and streets.  It is about power, the power to control by physical force and it is invariably about reinforcing social norms.

    In all circumstances, violence requres three things: the capacity to cause harm, a reason to commit violence and the ideological values that justify their behavior.  Children reflect the behaviors and values of the world around them.

    For children, those three components may be underdeveloped by adult standards - the pleasure of bending another child to their will may suffice for reason - but they are the reflection of behavior they have learned and interpreted from the world around them.

    Violence and bullying behavior are the simply the most extreme expressions of coercive practices and practices, driven by ideologies and intentions that reinforce those values in society.  By coercive, I mean all those practices that use force, fear, punishment and violence (real or implied) to compel our compliance.  

    See within that soup of abuse, the kids are just acting out the dramas written by the adults around them on the terms they have been given.

    Bullying behavior grows worse in authoritarian, very hierarchical and highly normative environments.  And it can become structural in religions, secret societies, authoritarian orders - including military and security forces - and in those places where conflict over resources has been so deeply ingrained into the social fabric, that kids are just repeating the violence, behaviors and values that drive life beyond the school yard gates.  

    American schools have become authoritarian nightmares, where teachers are chained to standardized tests, where critical thinking skills - so important to moral development - have been crippled, where everyone is organized into a stratified hierarchical order, enhanced by corporate power, made fearful of economic ruin and held to blame for the poverty our economic policies are spreading nationally and globally.

    The more dominant social powers - states, corporations, ethno-religious groups, etc. - try to impose authoritarian, hierarchical systems, the more they try to stratify and fix people within an unequal and capriciously defined order and then normalize those conditions, the more they generate extraordinary violence at the fringes of society, led - in many cases - by its youth.  

    Is this picture looking famliar?

    While these details may beyond the child in the school yard, this is the world they find themselves in. This is the world they are a part of and attempting to make sense of.  

    Why do kids become school yard bullies? Because the US government is the biggest bully in the world and they only pick on little people.  Because we've all been coerced and made fearful by collapsing opportunity; because we've all been taught to shut up and follow orders, lest we lose our petty privilege; because supremacist values are intrinsic to 'American' identity, which is why we pretend we are the 'world's policeman'; because we think 'might makes right', whether that's our supposed prowess on the battlefield, corporate power, or the 'real politiks' of 'winner take all' values in everyday life in a collapsing economic universe.

    In such a world, some of those kids will embrace those ugly truths about America and become a reflection of the 'American Empire', a nightmare land where egalitarian values, policies and behavior have been replaced by corporate order, surveillance, endless war, widening poverty and collapsing opportunity................

    If you want to end bullying, we need to embrace egalitarian values, start standing up for the poor, ethnic and religious minorities and everyone who has been bullied by our corporate, religious, political and economic elites.  

    And then we have to dismantle 30 years of policies, practices and beliefs that have exacerbated social, economic and political inequality in this country and return to our egalitarian principles.

    Rising violence and bullying by our children is simply a symptom of rising violence - including economic violence - and bullying in the world.

  •  The role of teaching (0+ / 0-)

    We don't have to demand that students look teachers in the eye so long as their other behaviors are consistent with academic standards and good behavior.

    Not quite, because that will leave the students unprepared for the next stages of school and the wider world. Mentoring students regarding how to adhere to social and professional norms is part of the academic experience-- how to address teachers, how to treat your fellow students, etc. This is part of what it means to stop bullying-- seeing up expectations and enforcing social norms such that this isn't part of what is considered "normal" in school.

    At the same time, this didn't really address bullying, as far as I can tell-- is bullying really caused by "not enough community" or because the culture of the faculty and administration is one that's unwilling to crack down on bullies?

  •  The power lies with the bystanders (0+ / 0-)

    I'm from Michigan, and theres a mother's group around where I live who are pushing this meme.

     A group of girls are sitting in the cafe at school, a girl walks up and asks if she can sit at the table w/them.  

    The bully says, "you can't sit here, but you can sit there" as she points to a bunch of empty tables.  

    The Key here is:  All those sitting at the table NEED to get up and leave at that very moment leaving the bully by herself.  I guess its working pretty good here.  Theres been some real change.  

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