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Have We Prevented Bullying?

October is Bullying Prevention month. Now that November is nearly upon us, perhaps we should take a look at efforts to address the problem of bullying. Shining a spotlight on the problem might be effective for a time, but when the spotlight is turned off, what is there to stop the cockroaches from coming out of their hiding places? Bullying prevention isn't an issue for October. It's an issue for children and adults all year long.

The proliferation of anti-bullying laws nationwide has undoubtedly had an impact on school bullying. The laws vary in effectiveness, however, and are not enough on their own to resolve the issue. Teachers, administrators and parents must do their parts to ensure that children are free from the fear, humiliation and degradation of bullying. To do that, they must help foster a culture where children are not rewarded for bullying. While bullies engage in their abusive behavior for many reasons, the simplest is that they receive a tangible benefit from dominating others. 

Children choose targets for bullying in many of the same ways adults do. If a child is different, for whatever reason, he or she is likely to be a target for bullies. Unfortunately, those differences can contribute to teachers and administrators reinforcing or ignoring the bullying behavior. When students are not treated with respect by their teachers, other students are sure to pick up on it and take advantage.

There are signs of progress, particularly among younger people, that tolerance and kindness could become the norm in American classrooms. There may come a day when children are not bullied for their sexual orientation, gender, disability, race or traits that set them apart. For that day to come, we must make bullying prevention a priority that extends beyond the month of October.

Source: Huffington Post, "Bullying Prevention Month is Almost Over; The Real Work Takes Place Every Single Day," by Signe Whitson, 28 October 2015 

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