Sunday, December 11, 2011

Stand Up To Bullying

Courage is fire, and bullying is smoke
~ Benjamin Disraeli

Bullying has received a lot of public attention in the past decade and, while it is good that something is being done to try to prevent the dire consequences of bullying, which can go as far as murder and/or suicide, public initiatives tend to rely on the principles of conflict resolution as the basis of their anti-bullying programs.

Typically, for example, if a student complains that another student is bullying him, the adult or teacher in charge is likely to send both students to the office where, after both get to tell their side of the story, they are urged to graciously acknowledge their respective roles in the incident and then make up. The incident, in other words, is treated as a conflict and then dealt with using conflict resolution and peace-making strategies that suppose two equal parties that equally share in the responsibility for both conflict and peace.

Treating the situation in this way ignores the power differential created by intimidation and, as a result, bullying is not being effectively redressed or defused at its source.

The best way to curtail bullying is, quite simply, to fight intimidation with intimidation, not necessarily with brawn (although there is wisdom in the macho father's urging his son to defend himself against a bully by “punching his lights out”). Numbers will also do the trick.

When a child is a victim of bullying at school, we should instruct other children to gather round the victim and publicly denounce the behaviour as a group. By standing by the victim, you stand up to the bully. The bully, when outnumbered in this way, will be made to feel weak. No longer supplied with the power surge he was hoping for, he will retreat, defeated.

This is called solidarity or resistance, a united front. And this is what children should be taught at school.


  1. Great Advice, I agree with you 100%. Pauline

  2. This is a good little video on how it takes only one person (the power of one) to make a difference.