Danah Boyd, in her blog article, “Bullying” Has Little Resonance with Teenagers, has stirred up lively discussions. While she is addressing teenagers in her piece, much of what she says speaks to us that work with the younger students. As I have mentioned previously, I am dealing with some cyberbulling issues at my school, with fourth graders. The Common Sense website has been very helpful. However, Danah’s statement in the article, “we need to start by understanding the underlying dynamics”, has caused me to stop and rethink my approach. What do I know about the family life of the “suspects” and the “victims”? What are the external influences upon these students? Am I using terms, such as bullying, when they really don’t relate to it at all.
As a victim of bullying during my middle and high school years, I am not so sure I would have been willing to try to see what was driving my tormentors. If memory serves me, and keep in mind my memory is not 100% accurate any longer, my main feeling was the overwhelming hope that someday I could get revenge. Thankfully, and great number of years later I no longer feel that need. I still don’t really want to know what was driving my tormentors but I have let go of them (mostly).
Conversations with children of all ages is vital. We must listen to what they are saying, watch their interactions with others, and be there to lend a shoulder or hand when they need it.