This week is National Bullying Prevention and Awareness Week... in Canada. But I live in Washington, and that is sort of near Canada, so we are going to celebrate it anyways, okay?
A while back there was a blog post somewhere that stirred up a lot of commotion. The writer was claiming that there were some benefits that come from having a child (particularly, in that post, a child with autism) be bullied. Some of the benefits mentioned were that it forced teachers to supervise children more closely (because they're watching out for bullying) and therefore everyone is a little safer; opens up opportunities for educating regular education students about autism; and teaches children to stand up for themselves and for others. While those things may occur at a school where children get bullied, a lot of people either commented or wrote their own blog posts explaining why the dangers of bullying outweigh the benefits.
When I was growing up, it seemed like the adults in my life believed that bullying was good for me. Sure, I cried every single day after school. Sure, I had stomachaches and headaches every night and every morning when I thought about going to school. Sure, I learned not to approach other kids and ask them to play... they would just make fun of me. Instead, I would find my own corner on the playground and read a book. Sure, I learned that paper airplanes, when thrown directly into my mass of tangled curls, would stick like Velcro in my hair but not cause any permanent damage. I learned that if I hurried like crazy, I could get to the locker room before any of the other girls did, change into my gym clothes, and be back in the relative safety of the gym before anyone had a chance to spray deodorant on me. Sure, I learned that if anyone was even the slightest bit kind to me, I was indebted to them forever and should do whatever they ask me to do. But, hey. I am still alive... and whatever doesn't kill you must be good for you.
So with this in mind, I thought I'd make a list of some tips for adults who want to encourage bullying. If you want to make sure that a child learns all the valuable lessons that come from being tormented by their peers, here are some steps you can take to make it happen.
1. If you're a teacher, it is never too late to be "in with the in crowd." Make sure that you are well-liked by all of the popular kids. Never discipline them or redirect them. You may be a teacher, but at least you're a popular teacher! All of the other teachers will be jealous. Will anyone be jealous of the teacher that sticks up for the nerds? Nah.
2. Make sure students know that you do not have time to talk to them about any personal matters that may be bothering them. If you assign personal narratives in your class, warn them not to write about anything personal, because you might make them read it aloud. You do NOT want to know what is going through these kids' heads!
3. If you are aware of a student being bullied, advise him to try harder to fit in with the others. Explain that he is bringing the bullying upon himself by the clothes he wears, the books he reads, the activities he does, the way he talks, etc. Tell them that until he changes, he is going to continue to be bullied. Similarly, if a child reports being bullied, tell her, "What did you do to make them do that to you?"
4. Do not worry about supervising unstructured areas like the hallways, the locker room, or the playground. It is not like the children are going to escape. They'll be fine. And you deserve a break.
5. Be a bully yourself. We all know you have certain kids in your classes who are just a little more annoying than others, a little too disruptive, a little too different. Maybe they are the ones who don't learn as quickly, or don't remember to turn in their homework. Publicly shame them. Make snide remarks about them in front of the rest of the class. This is the only way that these kids will learn.
6. If you are a parent, and your child says he's being bullied at school, tell him to just ignore the bullying. If you pretend something isn't happening, it won't be happening.
7. If your child continues to be bullied, be sure to not do anything about it. Do not speak with the teachers. Even if your child is crying and refuses to go to school, you put that child in the car, drop him off at school, and let him fight his own battles. It will only make him stronger.
If you follow these simple rules, then you will be helping to ensure that children will continue being bullied in school for generation after generation. Way to go, bullies! .