Category Archives: anti-bullying
I was interested to see that the Herald picked up the story of a facebook removing a pro-bullying group. What was interesting about this case was the reason that the group was taken down, it was due to parental action rather than school action. In fact according to the report the principal was unaware of the incident when he was first contacted by reporters (who had likely been tipped off after the topic became a heated topic on the Trade Me message boards).
This story brings up three important issues for me.
Firstly there is the concern that social media is taking bullying to a new level of awfulness. In some ways this correct. Students literally have a new medium for which torment each other. However while the internet has aided and abetted a bully’s ability to public humiliate victim. There is a positive aspect to this, it means that they are leaving a trail of nastiness which makes it easier for people to take action because, especially in the case of Facebook, the offenders are a lot easier to track down. More importantly cyber-bulling leaves a cyber trail of evidence so that those being bullied aren’t re-victimised by having to go through the process of talking about incidents all again and more importantly it doesn’t come down to a differing accounts of the story.
Secondly, as with all online campaigns I find myself a bit uncomfortable with the ‘fight fire with fire’ approach that many commentators use when they see cyberbullying going on. Alexandra Wallace the UCLA student whose now infamous racial rant ended up having to leave the University under a cloud of death threats after the video went viral back in March. Personally I’m a big fan of humour but that brings me to my last point.
Is the answer to the problem of cyber bullying merely to ban it schools? After years moderating a chat board (yes I am showing my age) and being an administrator on a blog with over 1000 hits a day (obviously not this one), I’m starting to think that schools putting a blanket ban on social media isn’t going to make the problem of cyberbullying go away. As this story indicates the lines between home and school are increasingly blurred with the advent of the internet (one would argue it started blurring with the advent of the phone). There are some instances where the schools need to be judicious with what sites are blocked, for instance primary school students are all under the age for Facebook so I can understand why the site is banned for the under 13s (though CEO Mark Zuckerberg would like for younger uses to have access to facebook and I don’t think adding netnanny to teachers’ job descriptions are the way to go either. But I do think it is important that students should learn the ins and outs of responsible cybercitzenship as part of their school day. However rather than just jamming another ‘important thing’ into the curriculum I would be finding ways to incorporate netiquette into existing learning areas. This assumes that all teachers are literate in the ways of the web and more importantly web 2.0. Which perhaps is the topic of a post for another time…
I know I’ve already posted it, but since its Pink Shirt day tomorrow I thought I’d re-post this awesome flashmob.
Posted in anti-bullying
New Zealand Graduating Teacher Standard 4.f
Graduating teachers demonstrate commitment to and strategies for promoting and nurturing the physical and emotional safety of learners.
I would write about my first day of school, but I love my school so much that such slavish devotion is boring to read. Hopefully by the end of the week I will be able to write something more coherent when I am not so infatuated.
Instead I will turn my attentions to the bullying story to go viral, that ofthe student who body slams his bully. I had seen the video posted by friends on facebook before the story hit the mainstream media. Each time the video was posted, I felt more and more uncomfortable as I watched the internet crowd cheering him on.
The popularity of Heynes is not entirely surprising. There’s an entire genre of school-based movies usually rely on the premise of seeing a bully get taken down because seeing bullies get their just desserts, it makes for some pleasurable movie moments. Who didn’t cheer on Daniel in the Karate Kid when he won the championship from the guy who had been tormenting him? Who didn’t snicker when Biff got clobbered in Back to the Future? Who didn’t cackle at the site of Regina George getting run over by a school bus in Mean Girls?
We laugh because at some point just about everyone in their life has been bullied for no apparent reason. They are too tall, too short, too fat, too skinny, too smart, too stupid, the wrong, race or the wrong sexual orientation. I’d even wager that someone has been bullied for being the wrong shoe size.
To see a kid who has been tormented for years due to his weight body slam the kid who just punched him in the face feels good because who wouldn’t want to have that moment? The moment the tormented finally vanquishes his tormentor, cue victorious rock melody and closing credits.
But what happens after that moment?
What’s the message we take from this story? If someone bullies you the answer is to pick them up and dump them on their heads fracturing their leg in the process?
A lot of people would say, yes violence is the only way to stop the bullying once and for all.
Even if that were the case, what if the child in question was not bigger than the bully? What if the child didn’t want to, or even worse, couldn’t physically protect themselves? More importantly would this story have been told differently if the ‘bully’ had suffered serious injuries or even death?
But what interests me the most is that the most important figure of this clip is the one that nobody is talking about. She is the older girl who can be heard telling the bully’s friends to ‘back off’ as they were about to seek revenge on the bullied student for his act of violence against his friend. She was ultimately the person who needs to be lauded for her part in the piece. If you want to stop bullying, the answer is not just preaching to kids not to bully. It is also about kids developing skills to step in when they see situations where another person is being hurt and humiliated.
Just think of what other societal problems we might solve if more people stepped in when they heard or saw something wrong.
How many kinds of awesome is there in this Canadian flashmob to promote Pink Shirt Day?
For those not in the know, Pink Shirt Day started from a single incident of a new student getting harassed for wearing a pink shirt. Instead of turning a blind eye, two senior students organized an internet campaign for the rest of the school to wear pink in order to stand up to bullying. This single act has morphed into an international event and will be observed here in New Zealand on April 14. You can find out more about the New Zealand campaign here.
The back story to the flash mob is here. I love that there were secondary school students helping out primary school students with the choreography.
H/t to Ms Volk.