What We Can Do About Bullying

(excerpt from Baltimore City Public Schools email, May 4, 2010)

… The reflexive response to school-based bullying is often to exclude the bully. That doesn’t work. Last year, the Baltimore City Health Department released a study that showed a strong correlation between children who had been suspended multiple times and those who committed, and were victims of, homicide.  Keeping kids in school can be literally a matter of life and death. Children who bully are almost always victims of bullying—and even violence—themselves, and they replicate with other kids what they see adults do. So to remove them from school is, in essence, to condemn them to a cycle of violence.  It is a narrow and unconscionable solution.

… At the same time, we know that the answers do not lie in City Schools alone. Because bullying behavior in school often reflects behaviors learned outside of school, we need our families’ and communities’ help. And there are many ways you, our partners and friends, can be involved. City Schools’ Family Institute offers regular anti-bullying trainings for parents, with several sessions slated for May and June. Please join these trainings or help spread the word. I also urge you to sign up through our online volunteer matching system to help schools address this issue. We currently have more than 20 schools seeking volunteers to help out during recess, lunch and in between classes—times when school staff is the most stretched and bullying behavior is most likely to occur.

… Our kids learn from how they see us—the adults in their lives—treat others every day. We may not realize it, but just the way we talk to students and to each other can be damaging, and it can feed existing cycles of negative behavior. And for those young people who may look most to the adults in their school communities for guidance—our approximately 6,000 students experiencing homelessness or in foster care, for example—our modeling of positive behaviors becomes all the more critical …

Dr. Andrés A. Alonso, Ed.D.
CEO, Baltimore City Public Schools

Posted by:  Linda Brown Rivelis, President