Graduating from Middle School and entering into a High School is a major step in an adolescents life. To be a young student in society today can be a challenge for some. The problem with bullying is evident and as a community (teachers, parents, students, and counselors) we have to set a standard to denounce the bullying that occurs in schools. Often times as students acclimate to a new learning environment there are many instances where hostile behaviors result in a few students being picked on. These moments are often expressed when people in authority are not watching. The bullied student is left to fight this “scary” battle alone.
How many more teen suicides do we have to hear about before we as a community get involved in the lived realities of these students? Interestingly, bullying is not something that just popped out of the air. Bullies are usually individuals who have endured intenst drama and subsequently re-create the scenario to overcome their terrible plight.
I will never forget a lesson plan I used in an after school program 12 years ago. I explained to the group of thirteen year olds that we were about to embark on an important lesson. I placed two chairs facing one another with signs on each that were labeled “Victim” and “Bully.” I understood that there was one particular girl that everyone picked on. I allowed her to sit in the “Victim” chair and had everyone interview her. Students asked her about what it felt like to be in her position. She expressed how she felt levels of loniliness, shame, and uncertainty. Then I had one of the known bullies in the class sit in the “Bully” chair. Students were able to interview her about how she felt being the one most students were scared of.
Confessions of a Bully
The Bully stated, ” I don’t want to be a bully and actually I was not a troublemaker until the teacher kept saying that I was causing problems. So I said to myself if I am going to keep getting in trouble for something I did not do I might as well cause real problems. I do not like being that way.”
With this understanding, the entire class was completely still. I was shocked at her transparency and ability to verbalize her actions as a bully. In this moment I realized that the bully was a victim of her environment as well.
As educators we can take more effort to assert a level of community within the classroom. This is vital. There is great value in a student centered approach to learning where all “voices” are heard. As we validate the learning experience of our youth we may help them to transcend from students to responsible adults. What we fail to deal with will deal with us. The violence that has been perpetuated in the schools system is a cry for help. We cannot ignore this cry.