Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Pro-Hero instead of Anti-Bully

   As I mentioned in my post last week, I recently did an Internet Safety and Tech talk for parents of preschoolers.  When I talk about this and related topics, I always talk about bullying and cyberbullying.

   Unfortunately, the concept of bullying has been around through the history of humans.  Interestingly, the term and specific study did not begin until the 1800s.  Of course, bullying is not just something that happens to children in schools.  My friend Denise Moreland discusses workplace bullying and bad management in her book (buy it here) and blog.

   There have been traditional ways parents and schools have tried to deal with bullying.  I'll discuss those below.  I say "tried" because these methods haven't really worked.  There's also been an anti-bullying movement over the past 10-20 years.  Even with all the media attention this gets, that method doesn't work either.

   I've recently learned of a new approach that I think can work!  It's called Pro-Hero.  Check out this great TEDtalk covering the basics.

   School bullying has gone from the "traditional", consisting of physical, verbal or written intimidation or harm, to the more modern which supplements with 24x7 electronic abuse.  Among the issues with cyberbullying is that victims often won't report the issues.  Why?  Imagine if your child said they were receiving threatening texts on their cell phone.  A parent's first reaction might be to take the phone.  But that is the child's connection to the online world and they would not risk losing this resource.  So this is a dilemma.

   Among the traditional approaches has been to have victims not react or respond to bullies, to report problems and to stick with friends, and for parents and administrators to be a trusted resource.  It's also critical to teach kids about bullying and assure that they don't bully or participate in bullying.  These ideas all have some merit and may protect some victims.  But none of this gets to the root of the problem.

   I think that a new approach, building Pro-Hero schools and individuals, can actually address this problem!  Kids need to learn to stand up for others.  So, it's not just about not participating in bullying, but to actively take a stand!  Now, this is not easy.  It takes a strong child to be able to stand up for others.  But parents and schools can teach this and instill these values.  And isn't this a great value to teach to our kids?  Yes!

   Here are some great resources:
   Let's encourage our kids to be heroes!

   What ideas do you have about cyberbullying?  What great resources can you share?

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