Are You Sure That’s Bullying?

“When we fail to distinguish between bullying and ordinary meanness, we trivialize the very serious cases of peer abuse,”

–Eileen Kennedy-Moore

Here’s a link to an interesting article from the Washington Post: Not all unkindness is bullying. Here’s why we need to teach kids to differentiate. by Braden Bell.

In this article the author discusses witnessing students in his classes develop differently as a result of their parents being too quick to label negative behaviours as bullying.

Here’s a summary of the ideas, but go check it out in full:

  • These kids demonstrated less resilience.
  • They got more easily and deeply upset about perceived offenses, including situations that were unpleasant, but weren’t really bullying.
  • Their heightened reactions had negative social consequences, as peers responded by disengaging from them.
  • The parent that cries bullying incorrectly loses credibility.
  • The kid labeled a bully could face severe emotional, social, and academic repercussions.

Part of the solutions laid out, the author discusses things like:

  • How do we respond when a child encounters unkindness that isn’t bullying?
    A simple question: “What are your choices?” And, as a follow-up, “What are the likely outcomes of those choices?”
  • Acting with intention and agency brings hope and empowerment.
  • Learning to honestly evaluate complex situations, look at the dynamics of relationships and respond in a thoughtful way requires and develops discernment, honesty and self-awareness.

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