So I had the opportunity to be with 10 local students on Friday - a PA Day and I had some interesting observations and conversations.
I enjoy being around children as they are honest and open - no hidden agendas have developed.
So this first piece will be about what they told me about bullying.
It seems like every kid has been bullied - I'm sure that's not shocking to adults as I think every adult can tell a story of being bullied. I have stories of being bullied at work - so this is not a 'kid issue' and how we deal with bullies sets a pattern for our lives.
I was talking to Elizabeth (yes we have the same name - she's in Grade 2) we talked about how kids make fun of her name - all the different things that they say. She did point out that many adults call her Elizabith ie not beth which she doesn't like. She says she lets everyone know that they have mispronounced her name - some get it and some don't.
Elizabeth said the 2 bullies' names in her 2/3 class. She said everyone knows who the bullies are and it's an interesting dynamic that not all kids ignore the bullies but somehow want to be with the bullies - not sure if this is about power or if you are with them they won't pick on you.
Elizabeth also told me that the bullying is subversive - it's rarely physical - rather words - so I don't think the saying we had as kids is true "Stick and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me" in fact I would say the complete opposite.
With mean words, kids can feel alienated - adults may not know that it is going on - and we can have students retreating into themselves, not liking school - not for the sake of school but based on the abuse that they face every day.
So what can be done?
We definitely need to have strategies for kids to use that would help them - if every kid knows who the bullies are and they are consistent in being a bully to many this is an issue.
Do these people grow up and continue to be bullies because they know how to manipulate people?
Do we teach them how to be mean and nasty subversively because they were never addressed in school?
This is a life skill for both sides that should be addressed.