The State of Michigan recently passed an Anti-Bullying Law. The law addresses bullying in schools by requiring schools to adopt an anti-bullying policy and enforcing it. The law does not require shools to implement any preventive measures for bullying and any other type of negative behavior.
Bullying; hurting, frightening, abusing, teasing, taunting, however you choose to define bullying the bottom line is that it damages the person being targeted.
What character education research shows is that there must be a consistent response to every episode of negative behavior. The adults must model consistently appropriate responses to all negative behavior. When adults use anecdotal responses, there is less change within the building. One of the measures noted in the research was that all teachers and certain support staff step into the hallways and stairwells to monitor student behavior – not to have a chat with another adult, but to actively monitor all students. But it takes more than monitoring student behavior to change the way people and students behave. It is the "culture" that tolerates negative behavior that needs to change!
We have rap music that glorifies gangster behavior. We have T.V. shows that glorify bullying – have any of you seen the JACKASS episodes when they were on MTV? This is bullying glorified!!! The biggest challenge and what character education and/or violence prevention programs set out to do is to teach that it is "uncool" to tolerate negative behavior. It teaches children how to deal with and cope with negative behavior and gives the teachers and other adults the tools to model appropriate responses and consequences.
Without character education, the burden is placed on kids to tell on each other to the teacher or whoever is placed in charge. This just deals with the immediate issue and does not have long term effects. It does not change school culture. We need the culture in school buildings to reflect zero tolerance from all stakeholders; from students to administration.
Please help us to protect all children in school. We need more than a law to stop bullying! We need character education so our kids and adults can recognize and heal the negative behavior in our schools!
Thank you for your time!