Bullying is certainly not new. Every generation has its trademark story or movie about the horrors of bullying. For a colleague and I, the 80’s movie My Bodyguard immediately sprung to mind when we began to discuss the topic. It’s a movie about a young teen faced with the threat of constant physical harassment.
For my daughter’s generation the film Mean Girls brought the issue of verbal aggression between girls to light.
Teens of today are familiar with how the television sensation Glee brought the plight of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students and the abuse they frequently suffer from their peers.
However, because of the attention bullying has received in recent years many common perceptions about bullying are inaccurate and have led to incorrectly classifying as bullying what is sometimes the normal jostling of teen relationships, the inconsiderateness of peers and the unkind behavior of classmates. Without distinguishing between what is normal and what crosses the line, it is even more challenging to address the real issues related to bullying and to teach young people to negotiate the often challenging aspects of peer relationships. Furthermore, zero tolerance responses that punish the perpetrator but do little to rehabilitate the offender or to support the victim, can be more harmful than helpful.
Child Trends, a well-regarded national center for research-based information, shared these 5 common myths about bullying.
Article by Becky Mather
Becky is the Prevention Education Coordinator with the Wisconsin Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Board where she oversees statewide efforts to offer professional development and training to family serving professionals to promote healthy family functioning and reduce the likelihood of child abuse and neglect. She and her husband are the parents of two adult children and a teenage son who challenges them to keep honing their parenting skills and strategies. Becky previously served as a parenting outreach specialist for the University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension and was one of the co-founders of Parenthetical.