Bullying is a behavior problem, but it occurs within a communications situation. My latest e-book, Bullying Begins as Words, uses that fact to pull students into exploring verbal and nonverbal aspects of communication.
The nonfiction writing prompts in Bullying Begins as Words allow teens, college students, and adult students to examine those communications choices that can change communications situations, including unpleasant ones like bullying incidents, for the better.
The prompts in Bullying Begins as Words are more than excuses for writing. They are associated with topics other than writing that are found in nearly every English program from middle school through college. The prompts are designed to be used with any textbook or no textbook.
English-communications topics addressed in the prompts include:
- Character development in literature
- Developing awareness of an audience’s needs and preferences
Although there are only a dozen prompts in the collection, they take up 40 of the 62 pages of the book. Each student prompt includes everything students need to understand the assignment and get started on it.
The teacher materials accompanying each prompt point out parts of the assignment that are likely to pose difficulty for students. The teacher materials also show each prompt fits with Common Core State Standards and the “revised Bloom’s taxonomy.”
Bullying Begins as Words is designed to provide English and communications teachers with writing prompts on genuine English and communications topics.The writing prompts are not designed to comfort victims of bullying, intervene in bullying situations, or prevent bullying.
If the writing prompts in Bullying Begins as Words reduce bullying, they will do it by increasing students’ awareness of the messages they send by their verbal and nonverbal communications choices.
[Link to Bullying Begins as Words removed 2014-04-24. The book is is not currently available.
A junior high student’s refusal to accept bullying has rippled through her school.
Auburn Junior High School has made LizzyDickson’s “Stop the Bull” campaign a schools-sponsored organization, with a school advisor and support from the administration.
The school’s resource officer has created a Facebook page where students who are bullied can send him messages directly. The school is also designating a Bully Locker where students can leave notes anonymously for the school resource officer.
Daniel Leddy writes about the law for the Staten Island Advance. He recently wrote about the problems that doom attempts to stamp out bullying by legal means.
“Any discussion of bullying requires an acknowledgement that it’s replete with significant variables,” Leddy writes. “Traditional bullying if often not apparent, and cyberbullying, even when open and notorious, is very difficult to stop.”
After explaining from a legal perspective why laws against bullying are so ineffective, Leddy concludes:
Despite passionate demands for official action against the various sizes and shapes of bullying, it is parents who remain their children’s best line of defense against those who would make their young lives miserable.
Leddy’s point was illustrated by the experience of a student at Auburn Junior High School in upstate New York.
Seventh grader Lizzy Dickson was picked on regularly in school and on the way home. When her abusers moved from nasty comments to pushing and shoving her, Lizzy decided she’d had enough.
Amy Dickson’s concern for her daughter didn’t make her lash out at the school for not doing their jobs.
She didn’t start a campaign to get the bullies locked up.
Instead she worked with her daughter to create a support group for students who were targets of bullies to empower them to stand up for themselves and others.
Together Lizzy and her mother created a Facebook page called “Stop the Bull” to support other local students who were bullied. They created bright green T-shirts with the words of a poem called “Haters” on the back. Lizzy and a friend wear the T-shirts to school to promote the anti-bullying campaign, which is gaining support from fellow students and teachers.
And Amy Dickson talked to her daughter about the hurts bullies may have experienced that make them feel the need to lash out at others.
Daniel Leddy would be impressed.
June 16 at the Bainbridge-Guilford school board meeting, a panel of teachers recommended that the board bring in an outside consultant at a cost of $7,000 per day to teach the school staff to deal with bullying.
William Tammaro, Delaware-Chenango-Madison-Otsego BOCES superintendent, said if BG could get another district to join in the training, the $7,000 cost could be covered by BOCES aid. BOCES aid means taxpayers would fund the training from their state taxes instead of their local property taxes.
One of the teachers had attended a seminar led by the consultant the team recommended. She gave a glowing testimonial to the value of the seminar information to classroom teachers.
Some things about this proposal puzzle me.
If there is a teacher on staff who has been trained in procedures for countering bullying, why is it necessary to bring in an outside consultant to share that information with the staff? Isn’t taxpayer-provided professional development for teachers supposed to enable them to teach others?
Of course, it is possible that the teacher could not learn all she needed to learn in one session. Would putting all teachers in the school district through one session of training have better results?
That’s the $7,000 question.