In many countries around the world it is anti-bully and anti cyber bully week. There are a myriad of programs, assemblies, songs, videos, meetings and more that are being presented and taking place in schools all around the globe. The real question is: “Is any of it doing any good, or is it a waste of time and resources?”
In general, the focus on bullying and what it can do to the people who are the victims is a good thing. I definitely commend everyone who is trying to bring bullying under control and the creative ways they are using to put bullying in the forefront of people’s minds. I have seen a variety of creative programs, especially this week with the focus of anti-bully week.
However, many of these programs are very superficial in nature and do not seem to have any substantial follow-up behind them. Simply having an assembly, and then possibly adding on a classroom activity or two, does not constitute a comprehensive anti-bully program. A real program of any type has continued training for faculty, support staff and children that continues throughout the year. Anti-bully training is just like any other subject matter that you are training on, it is a perishable skill. If you don’t train on something regularly then you can never actually internalize and make it yours and “own it.”
For example, every average person has done enough math to know that no matter what, two plus two always equals four. By the simple steps of reading it in books, following teachers work on the chalk board, doing homework assignments and then being able to apply these concepts in life at the grocery store, or wherever, you have mastered the concept of two plus two and you “own it.” The reason you now own it is because of continued training and use. The same must be true for training people to deal with others.
Unfortunately, people have not put the same amount of emphasis on how to deal with bullying as they have on math. For some people self-confidence is natural, but many others need help learning to properly deal with others and to develop their self-esteem and confidence. Now, I do not want to diminish the need for good math skills in any way, but doesn’t the training of personal interaction with another person deserve the same kind of focus and training? After all, most of us are going to spend more time interacting with other human beings more than we are with numbers. Also numbers are a constant and, except in extremely rare circumstances, it’s hard to prove math concepts wrong. In contrast, there are a huge variety of people and personalities and learning how to interact with the variety of people can be very difficult and require substantial training; not to mention that we need to teach our children how to develop and protect their self-esteem and self-confidence through training of their mind, their body and spirit.
It is my position that the development of human interaction skills and the ability to work with other individuals and “own” those skills is the only way we are ever going to get a handle on the bullying issue and actually diminish the number of incidents of bullying by any significant measurement.
So, is anti-bullying week a good thing or a waste of time? In general, it’s good thing. Let’s just make sure that we do not just focus on bullying a few days per year with some cute, yet forgettable, assembly. Instead we need to continue to train our kids on the real meat and potatoes of what instills and strengthens self-esteem and confidence. So, until next time, live a safe and empowered day.