Things I Know 133 of 365: Youtube won’t solve bullying

I’m starting to feel as though our plan for fighting school bullying is to have students create as many youtube videos on the topic as possible and then compliment the hell out of them.

Each time a link to a new bullying video flows through my twitter stream, I can’t help but think we’re missing the point.

We shouldn’t be surprised a student is able to cobble together an emotionally affective video about the pain and suffering of others, of children.

I worry sharing these videos masquerades in the minds of some as actually working against the deeper causes and effects of bullying.

In understand the instinct to share these videos. What I miss and wish was an equally prevalent instinct was to follow up the posting of these videos with reflections as to what we are doing and should be doing about bullying.

Instead of “This is a powerful student video about bullying,” I wish there were more, “This is a powerful student video about bullying as well as a link to my thinking about my own thinking on the topic and what I can do to prevent bullying in the classroom.”

Maybe that’s the implied conversation, and I’m just missing it.

I don’t think so. A quick search of my RSS feeds returns only 44 instances of “bully” and only two of those posts are from teachers talking about bullying prevention. Here is one you should read.

In a network of some of the most vocal proponents of social learning, two hits.

Where are the voices?

Where is the deeper discussion we’re always championing?

Where are we talking about what we’re doing to stop and prevent bullying in our classrooms?

Thinking these videos are stopping bullying strikes me as just as dangerous as hoping a young Helen Hunt on angel dust would win the war on drugs.

Anti-Bullying Resources for Teachers:

What else?

4 thoughts on “Things I Know 133 of 365: Youtube won’t solve bullying

  1. Sorry in advance for the long comment, Zac, but this is an area about which I feel strongly.  Parents, by and large, are missing from the conversations – and parents are NOT as far along teaching coping mechanisms to kids as we think. Over and over, I hear parents dismissing obvious bullying as “something kids do” – largely because parents don't know how to coach their kids.  Just last week, another parent was telling me about a girl in her daughter's 6th grade class who hides her daughter's water bottle, takes stuff from her desk and brags about it, and similar other acts. She told her daughter to “just ignore it” which is what WE were ALL told as kids, but precisely what DOESN'T work. Is this a MAJOR instance of bullying? No. Is it bullying at all? Absolutely.We need more resources for PARENTS to teach their kids to cope. We need to tell parents to take these seemingly small cases of bullying seriously, because they escalate. Also, telling kids that small bullying “doesn't matter” and they should “ignore it” denigrates the well behaved, non-bullying kids rather than empowering them to speak up.My daughter was bullied in 3rd grade. It was mostly verbal – usually jibes about her liking some boy and wanting to kiss him, done with the power of a group behind her. It was rarely physical, but the mental impact on my daughter was the same.  I insisted that my daughter take steps to address the problem herself, rather than stepping in as a parent (which I know would have made the problem worse).  She and I practiced FOR WEEKS things she could say when the bully attacked her verbally – mostly funny things as humor often defuses. We practiced those comebacks until she felt comfortable, and I told her over and over that what the girl was doing and saying was WRONG and that she (my daughter) didn't deserve to be talked to like that.  But I also advised her that she COULD stop the attacks & suggested she USE her anger to confront the bully, because bullies only like easy targets. Finally, the day came when my daughter was so mad about what the bully was saying that she used one of the lines we'd been practicing – and it worked! The bullies friends laughed at the bully, which mortified the bully and earned my daughter a bit of admiration – and the end of the bullying.That same bully girl was in her class again this year (6th grade) and my daughter was worried about more bullying. She came back from the first day of class ELATED that the former bully was being NICE to her. This was a HUGE morale and confidence booster for my daughter – but only because I took seriously a seemingly inconsequential event that was NOT inconsequential to my daughter.My daughter now knows that bullies CAN be stopped – and she who is shy and quiet spoke up to a guidance counselor this year on behalf of another student who was being bullied on her bus. That girl's mom told me that she didn't think bullying was really happening because no one else would confirm it and her daughter is known to be extra sensitive. Another case of the parent not believing that her child was being bullied – and not knowing what to do in any case.  After that event, my 11 year old made this powerpoint on bullying:…Parents – your kids need you to believe them, to help the cope, and to NOT tell them to “just ignore it.”

    • Debbie, thank you so much for the thoughtful and impassioned response. What you did, talking about the process and the reasoning behind it, are exactly what we need more of. Though not as familiar with it, I'm in agreement about the need for more resources for parents.What about at your daughters' schools? Are there resources or workshops for parents to help deal with bullying?I also worry about supporting the kids who are bullying. Where does that come from? What are we doing to help bullies get to that root cause?I worry, as a teacher, when we alert parents that their kids are bullying they don't know how to process that with their kids. Oftentimes, the punishment is grounding or losing privileges. While I appreciate the consequence, it doesn't get to the possible roots, nor does it seem especially proactive.Thank you for your thoughts. As always, they deepened mine.

    • Debbie, my 12 yo daughter just told me about a group of kids that asked her about liking a certain boy (which she does).  She too received verbal taunts about kissing the boy (by making kissy faces).   They are also taunting the boy – who knew nothing about my daughter liking him.  The group of kids is from a different elementary school in the same town, but they will all be in the same middle school this fall.    I want to give her the tools to respond to them – would you share the comebacks your daughter practiced and used?

  2. @zephoria's (Danah Boyd) posts have really changed my thinking about bullying. I have to admit I have not posted myself about bullying specifically. Have really concentrated this year in handling it directly and consistently in  my class (when I know about it–that is the hardest for me. My age changes how they connect with me as versus a younger teacher).  It seems to me that we often promote the culture of the victim by “helping” the victim to deal with it. I think the bully also has a problem, but even adults still have trouble confronting bullies. There are deep, endemic attitudes that stop teachers and parents from tackling the problem effectively.

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