Bullies come in all forms. Bullies are good kids with no confidence who want some power or adults who have no confidence and too much "power." What do we do with a bully? I guess a better question is. . . what do we do if a child is bullying?
Honestly, I have no answer. Actually, like many of the problems parents and teachers face today, there is no one answer. We look to principals for answers, behavior specialists, school guidance counselors, but the truth is we are all just going through trial and error until something clicks.
What I do know is where to start. The word power comes to mind when thinking of my favorite child who has bullying problem. Often when one bully leaves the class, another emerges. Why is this? Because the balance of power is disrupted. . . and they see an opportunity to be in charge, to lead the social circle, and in some cases to be cool (or at least not picked on.)
So how do we redistribute this pattern of power? If you've ever been in the corporate world you know the business model for most companies is a triangle (with the power held by a few at the top.)
Usually the top is where the bully is and everyone else subserviant. How do we inverse that triangle? How do we put the majority of the kids in a position of power to take charge of their class and education?
I want to share a book that might open up this conversation and the power issue that kids are so reluctant to talk about.
I'm thinking of reading the words of this book. Then having them create an illustration inspired by the story. Here is part of the story. . . "One was a quiet color. He enjoyed looking up at the sky, floating on the waves, and on days he felt daring. . . splashing in rain puddles. Every once in a while he wished he could be more Sunny like Yellow. Or bright like Green. More regal like Purple. Or outgoing like Orange. But overall, he liked being Blue. . . . except when he was with Red. Red was a hot head. " What grade level do you think this book is for?
Besides talking about it with an adult and each other, anonymity is important if we are ever going to make real change. Can we create a place of anonymity? Can we have students take back their power and stand up for each other and themselves in a real way? Can we do this through art? Can we do this through collaboration in art? These are all questions I am going to be exploring next week. Let me know what you think or if you can commiserate!