Monday, November 7, 2011

what about the bully?

Our second post about bullying relates to the bully. A reader commented on the last post that there are lots of resources for working with victims of bullies and for bullying prevention programs, but it can be harder to know how to work with the bully in these situations.  I've been working on this post for over a week, and still find myself struggling to locate resources to help teachers learn how to handle the bully in a bullying situation. So here's a first attempt, with more to come I'm certain!

Just last week an article was published regarding some new federal regulations about bullying, specifically to add language to the ESEA Act to protect students from bullying and harassment in all schools and districts, and more explicitly protect LGBT students. The Safe Schools Improvement Act would require establishing codes of conduct to prohibit bullying for any reason. This is a hot topic, indeed, and as teachers, we need to be able to identify and work with bullies, not just victims.
Children who bully:
  • May witness physical and verbal violence or aggression at home. They have a positive view of this behavior, and they act aggressively toward other people, including adults.
  • May hit or push other children.
  • Are often physically strong.
  • May or may not be popular with other children around their same age.
  • Have trouble following rules.
  • Show little concern for the feelings of others.
But what can you do when you identify a bully? It's important to immediately intervene, consistently enforcing the consequences of the classroom and school. Once bullying has been reported, it is crucial that the report be taken seriously. It works best to have serious talks with the bully and victim(s) separately to sort out the situation. With the bully, talk with them to identify the root of the bullying, though it is important to note that the bully may deny any wrong-doing. It is likely that the bully feels powerless somewhere in his/her life, and identification of that situation may help in problem-solving the bullying.

When talking with the bully, it is important to reiterate any class and school policies related to bullying and communicate with parents early in the situation, and work together to develop academic and nonacademic positive behavior supports at school and home. Help students see their shared responsibility for the classroom and school culture, and help students individually develop skills around communication, friendship and peer relationships, and management of emotions. It is important to work over time with the bully to acknowledge what was wrong and recognize the consequences of his/her actions. Developing relationships with caring adults can really help in educating bullies about the consequences of their behavior.

None of this is revolutionary advice. I'm still working on compiling more resources for you. In the mean time, check out these resources and links for more info.
PACER's National Bullying Prevention Center
and the off-shoots, Teens Against Bullying and Kids Against Bullying
Free Spirit Press publishes lots of texts around bullying and conflict resolution
Teaching Tolerance also provides resources and classroom activities for teachers
Stop is the U.S. Dept of Health and Human Resources center for bullying prevention

Here are some picturebooks and novels that deal with bullying that might make for interesting read alouds or independent reading for older students as another way into this important topic.

Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon, written by Patty Lovell, illustrated by David Catrow 
The Ant Bully, written and illustrated by John Nickle
Chrysanthemum, written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes
Hooway for Wodney Wat, written by Helen Lester, illustrated by Lynn Munsinger
The Hundred Dresses, written by Eleanor Estes, illustrated by Louis Slobodkin
The Ugly Duckling, adapted and illustrated by Jerry Pinkney
Mr. Lincoln's Way, written and illustrated by Patricia Polacco
Don't Laugh at Me, written by Glin Dibley, illustrated by Alan Shamblin
Say Something, written by Peggy Moss, illustrated by Lea Lyon
Goggles, written and illustrated by Ezra Jack Keats
King of the Playground, written by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor illustrated by Nola Langner Malone
Pinduli, written and illustrated by Janell Cannon
When Sophie Gets Angry - Really, Really Angry, written and illustrated by Molly Bang (which is less about bullying, but could help in conversations about how to deal with anger)

Crash, by Jerry Spinelli
Jake Drake, Bully Buster, by Andrew Clements
The Misfits, by James Howe
Max Quigley, Technically Not a Bully, by James Roy
When You Reach Me, by Rebecca Stead
Dog Sense, by Sneed B. Collard
The Meanest Doll in the World, by Ann M. Martin
Blubber, by Judy Blume
Schooled, by Gordon Korman
Feathers, by Jacqueline Woodson
When Zachary Beaver Came to Town, by Kimberly Willis Holt
The Truth About Truman School, by Dori Hillestad Butler
This is What I Did, by Ann Dee Ellis
Bullyville, by Francine Prose
Bystander, by James Preller

Feinberg, T. (2003). Bullying prevention and intervention. Principal Leadership, 4(1).
Lyznicki J, et al. (2004). Childhood bullying: Implications for physicians. American Family Physicians, 70(9): 1723-1728.

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