Be A Hero…To Someone.
Last month was National Bullying Prevention Month. Despite a rampant problem with violence and bullying between students on my campus…the school did nothing for this month. No assemblies, no events, nothing of any weight. I have been aware of the Marvel Comics “Stomp Out Bullying” variant covers (out this month) so I was planning to do some posts, to raise some kind of awareness about it. Also, to stay on the positive side.
I have to say…I don’t honestly understand modern bullying as well as I’d like to. It is infinitely more anonymous than when I went to school. Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat are integral parts of the modus operandi. Students don’t so much bully face to face any longer, but instead through a long list of intermediaries until things get way, way out of control.
I spend a good deal of time, every day, staying on top of these relationships through tips, and things heard in the hallway. More than anything, I want to stop things before they become physical, which I am reasonably able to do for the students in my classes. Sadly, they operate in a school which has little monitoring, so even those efforts are like trying to stop a waterfall with your hands. The local high school actually prefers to have their physical conflicts at our venue, due to the reputed lack of supervision.
That’s all terrible, sure. I can do my best to resolve conflicts, and stop the fights from starting in my zone of influence. That’s true.
Also, though…I can be like the art above. I can take the time to focus on the good kids, the studious, the shy. I can take a moment, at no harm to myself, at any time of day, and help a kid out. I have an amazing amount of power as a teacher, to improve the quality of life for the young people in my care. A kind word, a quickly drawn picture, a few moments of my time, and a young person can feel like they matter.
It’s easy to forget that. It is so simple to get stuck on “protective detail” that you forget what you are protecting.
The other day, during lunch, I sat with two students in my co-teacher’s room, with a sub. The young lady did homework, the boy built Legos, and I colored the Saturday posting. The two were avoiding lunch, for all the negativity and drama. In that time, we discussed the future, Italian Renaissance Artists, why integers need to be in math class anyway, and our favorite musicians. They were sweet kids, who just wanted to have a nice day, and get through it with no trouble.
By just spending time with them, and other adults, their day improved.
There are a lot of fancy programs to “Stomp Out Bullying.” Safe and Civil Schools, for one, and elements of the CHAMPs program. There are assemblies, and activities, and heartfelt videos. There’s a pledge that you can sign online.
At the end of the day, though, stopping bullying is about starting something positive. About taking some time to nurture, to be helpful. It’s about acknowledging the needs of the young people in our care, and attempting to meet them in the middle.
Although, by no means am I suggesting that schools should be soft on bullies. Nothing makes me more upset than the idea that school is not as safe as if should be, and that with the massive cuts in arts programs, there are fewer and fewer positive outlets for students’ emotional content.
Next Issue: Veteran’s Day!