A couple of years ago, I wrote an article for the American School Board Journal on bullying. It was a belated follow-up to a decade-old article I wrote in the wake of the 1999 Columbine shootings. The education world changed after Columbine, particularly in the area of student safety and security. I was pleased to find out in my research that school leaders, administrators, and educators were taking bullying and student aggression much more seriously than before the tragedy.
I interviewed counselor and author Stan Davis for my article, and I’ll never forget what he had to say about bullying prevention.
All schools have an overt culture and a hidden one, he said. “Kids are paying attention to the hidden one. They will see if we welcome new staff, and if we will listen to hate speech.”
If adults are permitted to bully and mistreat each other, or their students, no program, assembly, or curriculum will have much impact.
I had his words in mind when I assigned Senior Editor Naomi Dillon ASBJ’s October cover story, “Adults Behaving Badly,” now online on ASBJ.com. Dillon looks at the phenomenon of work place bullying. Lean budget times, school layoffs, and high-stakes testing pressure have created a toxic environment in some districts. In some cases, the toxicity is fueled by social networking sites. If not addressed, bullying among adults will spread to students. As educators and parents all know, children are watching your actions more than paying attention to your words.
Also as part of our school climate coverage, Senior Editor Lawrence Hardy writes about how some districts are working to reduce racial, ethnic and cultural tensions while creating an environment where children can thrive. “How’s Your Climate?” is also available at www.asbj.com.
Take a look at what we have online this month and please feel free to comment.