We all know that in a “dog eat dog” world, the biggest dog with the loudest bark usually ends up on top. We see this more clearly than ever in the school environment, through what is known as “bullying”. The media, an increase teen suicides, an increase in cyberbullying, and countless PSA’s and anti-bullying campaigns make us painfully aware of this reality. But what really is bullying? Are we as a society guilty of often labeling conflict between peers as “bullying”, and what separates bullying from conflict?
Cyberbullying, the latest trend in bullying, adds a complex, digital layer to the existing problem. What you need to know about cyberbullying >>
Once we can properly identify bullying, we need to begin to take actions to prevent it. When bullying happens, it is common for two sides begin to play the “blame and shame” game; teachers and school administration will blame parents for not bringing up better children, and parents will blame the education system for not stopping bullying in schools.
All of us need to realize that placing blame on a situation should not take priority. Instead, we need to work together to take proactive approaches to raising resilient kids, so they may become healthy, caring, well-adjusted adults who will be less prone to engaging in violent or risky behaviors like bullying.
While devising programs and plans to reduce the incidence of bullying is important, these actions can only do so much. All adults need to realize that they play an important role in preventing bullying. The action steps that adults can take start at home, and spread to schools and entire communities. These action steps are called building resilience, and it’s the long-term solution to addressing bullying and other risky childhood behaviors.
Although some kids may have some biological inclination toward resilience, there is research that overwhelmingly points toward the ability for resilience factors to be learned. When we teach resilience, we are able to change the life trajectories of kids from risk to resilience, but it has to be taught to them by the adults in their families, their schools, and their communities.
The Action Steps below will take you to action steps that all adults can take in each of these environments in order to foster positive characteristics that build resilience and promote healthy development and successful learning.