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WHAT OTHERS SAY: Dipping into an anti-bullying strategy

Friday, May 3, 2013 | 11:03 a.m. CDT

Bullying is an unfortunate and unnecessary obstacle to education.

Students who are bullied often resist attending school and, if they do attend, avoiding their tormentors and coping with stress might divert their attention from instruction.

State lawmakers are considering legislation to require public school districts to adopt and enforce anti-bullying policies.

The Jefferson City School District has a policy that defines bullying as “intimidation or harassment of a student or multiple students perpetuated by individuals or groups.”

Bullying is not a new phenomenon and it is not confined to classrooms.

In addition, modern advances in social media have created a popular and despicable application. Cyberbullying compounds the cruelty because the perpetrators may remain anonymous or hide behind other personas — real or imagined.

We find much truth in the Bucket-Dipper theory of bullying outlined in a letter by Katherine Schedler, published Sunday. She wrote: “Everyone has an invisible bucket and an invisible dipper. When your bucket is full, you use your dipper to dip from your bucket to fill another’s bucket, e.g., compliment, encourage, etc. If your bucket is empty, you use your dipper to dip out of another person’s bucket, e.g., put down, demean, etc.”

Administrative policies — in schools, workplaces, etc. — are necessary, but they largely address punishable behavior, not human nature.

In addition, a consequence of punishment might cause the bullying to escalate, often in a more secretive manner.

Children, and adults, want to belong. We were created as social beings who want to be connected, accepted and loved.

Self-worth often is based on those social underpinnings.

The many forms of bullying — humiliation, ridicule, disrespect, ostracism, etc. — erode those underpinnings, leaving the victim feeling alone, isolated, depressed, even suicidal.

The social movement to improve self-esteem among young people — by not keeping score of youth baseball games, for example — wasmet with much derision. Although the applications were questionable, the basic concept had merit.

That concept, using the Bucket-Dipper theory, is to help people keep their bucket full so they can give to, not take from, others.

Bullying, in the final analysis, is a form of taking. It is stealing another person’s sense of self-worth.

And it is prompted by the mistaken notion that the bullies can elevate themselves by tearing down others.

A starting point for all of us — parents, educators and members of a community — is to remind people, especially children, that each of us is unique and valuable.

Copyright Jefferson City News Tribune. Reprinted with permission.


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Comments

Jimmy Bearfield May 3, 2013 | 1:49 p.m.

Bullies often respect only force. At my high school, a jock used to bully a lot of kids. One day, several of them ganged up on him and gave him such a beating that he couldn't play the rest of the season. He never picked on anyone again the rest of high school.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams May 3, 2013 | 2:29 p.m.

Personally, I don't think anything will EVER stop the verbal form of bullying. After all, so-called enlightened adults do it, too.

But, physical bullying....either by threat or action?

Kick their asses out of school. You get one warning. Two strikes and we give up on you.....you are out with a permanent suspension. This decision rests with teachers, principals, and superintendents...they get legal immunity from idiot lawsuits from idiot parents and do-gooders.

We'll either see you in court at a later date or you can move and try for a HS education elsewhere, or both. This is one arena where I'm solidly in with the "greater good" groups.....the education of kids who behave themselves and want to learn trumps the education of kids who could care less about themselves and others. I'm more than willing ostracize the aggressors and tax myself for prisons than sacrifice the education of all those with the bright future that comes from learning.

I won't be your bleeding heart....if you don't care, neither do I.

(Report Comment)

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