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Subject of the day is bullying. We started hearing a lot about "bullies" some 10 years ago in the literature. It seemed that it was a welcome topic. We had seen kids terrified to come to school or to walk home. We were beginning to see children being harassed on social media. Time to turn the tables. Now, I am concerned that like much of what humankind does, we are going too far. I sometimes have trouble telling who is the "bully" and who is being "bullied". Its pretty easy to tell on social media because we have the transcript in our hands. But when a child tells a parent that they are being bullied, it is important for the parent to fully investigate (or ask the school to do so) what is really happening. I sometimes see parents who immediately accept that their young child understands what bullying means. Often, they don't. It is important to find what the antecedents are. What happened right before the incident? For the playground, I teach children, as I always have, that if someone is bothering you to 1) tell them you don't like it, "Please stop"!, if they don't stop 2) walk away. If they follow you, 3) go stand by an adult and 4) if they are still bothering you, 5) ask the adult for help.
I teach them to ask in a non-tattling manner. "James is pulling on my shirt, I asked him to stop, he hasn't, what should I do"?
As a teacher, if a child ran up to me and said, "James called me a name" I would reply, "Oh, and what did you (or could you) say"?. It is so important that whenever possible, children learn to navigate their social life as independently as possible. You cannot follow them their whole life. However, safety, is always our first thought. Is everyone being safe? If not, then yes, we need to intervene immediately. If they are being safe, how can we help them work it out?
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