Warning: What you are about to read is my opinion. My opinion, on occasion, has not been overly popular! This is how I see the effort to end the senseless deaths caused by bullying becoming successful. Your mileage may vary!
As you look out across the internet looking for assistance in preventing the damage of bullying for yourself, your children, or your school, take care. There are many great resources for information, handouts, and guidance, but they may not fully fill your needs. There are many speakers and experts who are willing to come speak to your groups, but their speaking alone cannot alter the situation enough to affect real change. To really make a difference, to change the situation in favor of safer schools, takes practice and consistent effort.
The internet is full of excellent resources to assist you in the fight against bullying. From the sites hosted and developed by our state and federal governments such as StopBullying.govt o those private sites like the Olweus Bullying Prevention Group, there are lots of online resources available. All of these websites have handouts, data, ideas, and much more, mostly available for free. The catch is there is no one there to help you implement the ideas and develop your program. Many times the programs these sites offer are really quite good, but without the assistance of someone who knows the material and how to present it the program loses effectiveness. A good handout will only do so much; a great set of posters can only reach those who choose to view them. More is needed in this battle; it takes people in “the trenches”.
When it comes to getting “bodies on the line” in the war on bullying, nothing sounds better than a visit from an expert in the field. Experts in child psychology, education, and other fields related to the bullying epidemic are a valuable resource. If, however, you pin your hopes on a single visit from an expert, you will likely be disappointed. A single talk, even one tied to a training seminar, will again fall short of the type of change required to win the battle. In martial terms,
“A General alone cannot win the war. That singular individual, no matter how inspiring, how intelligent, or how talented, cannot even win a single battle on their own. Victory comes through the leadership and effort of many.” – Anonymous
Experts and specialists who visit for a day or two and then return to their own hometowns will do little to help in the ongoing war. They may have a positive short term effect, providing information, training, and inspiration, but their lasting value is very small. Often these efforts can backfire when the student body realizes that the one person they saw and heard who really seemed to care about the problem is now gone. To be successful we must cultivate and utilize local leaders, people who will stay focused and remain “on sight” to deal with situations as they arise. When the children see the same face, or faces, day after day and are able to talk to those people as they seek help, real change can begin. It takes people willing and able to stay “in the trenches”, fighting for your school, protecting your children.
To win this war we must take a page from the “warrior’s handbook”. We must be willing to work hard and develop the skills necessary to make a real and lasting difference in the lives of our children. We must practice our skills on a daily basis, applying our knowledge and experience to make small changes each day. A martial artist knows that to be the best at their chosen art they must train with diligence. They know that not every competition and every test will go their way, that a true warrior must practice perseverance. The war on bullying requires that we utilize all of our resources wisely and dedicate the “blood, sweat, and tears” necessary to reach our goal. Don’t be fooled by the idea of the “quick fix”. No handout, poster, or speaker alone will solve the problem. It takes the consistent attention and dedicated effort of local leaders, local experts who can spend the time “in the trenches” on behalf of your school to make it a safer place to learn and grow.