You may know that I take a special interest in making schools safe for all kids, and especially safe from bullying and abuse. I experienced it when I was younger. So I can relate. That’s why I’m not totally comfortable with an anti-bullying approach to the issue. I think it more important to focus on what we want, not what we don’t want.
Strategies that focus only on condemning the bully and teaching kids to report their abuse to a teacher or other responsible adult miss the point. That approach makes it the responsibility of the person being abused to fix it. I was told that. And all it did was make me feel more alone than ever.
I say we all have a responsibility. And here’s the message I want to send to students: “Each and every one of you is responsible for the environment and culture you live in.”
When you are a bystander of abusive behavior, you become a part of it. When we stand together as a community and say “that is not behavior we accept,” no one accuses the bully (who is really just another student with issues), but instead, we articulate a standard we hold everyone to.
Recently I discovered a tremendous resource for explaining much better than I the importance of rejecting bystander behavior. It’s so important that each week, I intend to post a new video about how to overcome inaction and create a bystander revolution.