Later today, Secretary Duncan will join President and First Lady Obama for a White House Conference on Bullying Prevention. As a parent, student, or educator, you may be asking yourself “why is so much attention being paid to bullying, isn’t bullying just part of growing up?” The fact is that for too long, bullying has been dismissed as “kids being kids.” Yet, bullying is a serious problem that not only affects a child’s self esteem and emotional well-being, but can significantly affect a child’s ability to learn.
I’d like to comment on the idea that it is just part of growing up. Yes, students need to be able to handle conflict, people they don’t like, and be able to brush off things and move on. But there is a level of bullying, that was there even when I was in school that is just down right cruel. It isn’t acceptable, it does not make schools conducive to learning, and the students that participate in it certainly need to learn the lesson on how to treat people in general and respect for differences.
When I was in college, I took a child and adolescent psychology course. Due to my own experience of being bullied and my future as an educator, I asked what we can do to help prevent bullying and to change bullying behavior once it exists. He told me “Nothing.” I don’t believe that that is true, and I’m so happy to see this is being taken more seriously.