Thursday, September 21, 2000
Steamboat Springs Remember all the myths you learned about bullies back in grade school? That bullies are insecure, they don't have friends, they just want to be liked?
Well, according to the latest theory on bullying behavior, none of those things are true.
On Monday, Steamboat Springs Middle School is hosting a forum to discuss a "no bullying" program which will be implemented this year.
"As part of the program implementation, we would like to have as many people as possible be aware of our efforts," Steamboat Springs Middle School secretary Ginny Fry said. "We want all adults to be able to confront bullying whenever and wherever they see it."
According to Beverly Title, PhD, of Hazelden Corporation in Minnesota, the difference between a peer conflict and a bullying situation is that in the latter, there is an uneven distribution of power. Hazelden Corporation is the source of the No Bullying program.
Rather than telling young people to "be tough" and "stand up to bullies," the no-bullying program encourages adults to intervene and break up the conflict.
"Assertiveness will not work," Fry said. "The myth is that you can reason with the bully, that he or she will want to change their behavior. But that's not true. Bullies always make sure they have more power, or they wouldn't do it. Someone who does 'stand up' could really get smashed."
Earlier this year, middle school principal Sandy Hall, parent Deb Young, and teachers Lisa Ruff and Sally Howard all joined Fry at a conference in Boulder where the no-bullying program and intervention strategies were discussed and explained.
Hall thought the workshop went well; the next step is to reach out to the community, upon which success of the program will utterly depend.
Middle school staff is encouraging anyone who is in contact with young people and children in Steamboat to attend the informational meeting.
"We want their help," Fry said. "These programs work really well when its a community-wide program. If some people do this and some people don't, it doesn't work well."
Intervention doesn't mean giving people the right to shake bullies up, she added, but does let people know that these situations should be stopped, and that there will be consequences.
"We see a little of (bullying)," Fry said. "We want to get a hold of it before it becomes a problem. But we don't have a bullying problem. Not yet."
Recognizing bullying behavior is key. So, at the informational meeting on Monday, middle school staff will be discussing the different kinds and degrees of bullying, which include emotional, physical, social, verbal and non-verbal characteristics. Bullying can range from eye-rolling or gossiping to arranging public humiliation and threatening with weapons.
Indeed, violence in public schools nationwide is causing heightened concern for bullying situations. Hayden Middle School, the recipient of a school safety grant, has already begun implementing a similar bullying prevention program.
The informational meeting will focus on defining bullying behavior, developing empathy for those involved in the situations, discussing the difference between "reporting" and "ratting," and consequences.
"We want all adults to be able to confront bullying whenever and wherever they see it," Fry said.
The informational meeting will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Monday at the middle school cafeteria.