Bullying: What Can You Do?
A couple weeks ago, I attended Anti-Defamation League’s Cyberbullying Symposium along with 200+ students, educators and school leaders. The keynote speaker was John Halligan, a name many of you remember from the influx of TV interviews, news articles and speaking engagements surrounding the suicide of his 13-year old son Ryan Halligan. This happened in 2003 and it’s still happening, most recently with Carl Walker-Hoover and Jaheem Herrera.
Recently the mothers of Carl and Jaheem were on Oprah speaking their son’s stories and talking about why school bullying is more than just “kids just being kids”. In lieu of the episode, Oprah.com has pulled together the parents’ stories plus some information about bullying: how you can help, signs of depression, dealing with bullies and the bullied, and so on. There’s also Remembering Ryan Halligan, a 3+ minute video featuring John and Kelly Halligan speaking about what happened to Ryan.
At this point, most educators, parents and students understand that bullying is indeed a real problem and are wondering what to do. An important first step is to learn more about bullying, realize that it’s not harmless or fixable by simple conflict resolution, that it’s an exploitation of power that needs to be addressed with both the bully and the bullied. Realize that, as an educator, parent or student, standing by or doing nothing makes you a passive bystander who indirectly permits bullying and often fuels the fire.
To learn more, I recommend starting at these 4 places:
- Read Ryan’s Story at John Halligan’s site
- View Addressing Bullying in Schools, a great PowerPoint presentation about bullying (may take a second to load)
- If you’re a parent, read The Matter of Bullying and Creating a Safe and Caring Home
- Learn more about bullying in general at Bullying at School and Online
Then what? You can also take John Halligan’s route, and focus on changing the legislation in your home, school or state. John changed the legislation in Vermont, but there are still countless states without anti-bullying laws in place (New York included). To learn more about our children’s rights, check out:
- BullyPolice.org – How States are “Graded” on their Anti-Bullying Laws
Like the Anti-Defamation League, you too can get a group together (big, small, formal, informal) and talk about the appearance and impact of bullying. In addition to John’s site above, here are two more great resources to get the conversation going with kids:
Please also get involved in Bully Bust 2009, a bullying awareness campaign slated to start at the end of the May. We’ll be filling Bully Bust with practical directives on what you can do, including downloadable tools for kids, educators and parents, an actionable pledge and comprehensive information on bullying in general and “upstander” behavior in particular. Come fall 2009, schools will also be able to participate in a project that empowers students to stand up and be upstanders to bullying and harassment in a way that is administratively easy and rewarding to the whole school community. (To join the community-led concerted effort, click “Join our Cause” and enter your email address at http://www.bullybust.org or join our FB group here.)
It’s important not to let the conversation stop. Please share more resources – favorite websites, words of support, stories – in the comments below.