I realise that's a very confrontational heading but I mean it 100%!
I've just had an article published in Living Now on this topic. Publication agreements and Google worms mean that I can't also publish it here, so I'm providing the first bit and a link to the rest HERE but would love your comments below.
'There’s a great deal of fear and judgement in relation to bullying, but as with most challenging issues what’s being missed are the blessings and opportunities. No-one wants to get to the point of significant abuse (either as giver or receiver) or to the ultimate crisis of fatal aggression or suicide, so let’s call this what it is and get on with it.
'According to the Law of Conservation, we’ll never eradicate bullying or aggression – it’s part of our nature and how we evolve, and to think otherwise is delusion. Far more important that we recognise the dynamics at work and find useful ways of empowering ourselves and others in managing these traits.
'We each play each role. The bully at school is quite possibly bullied at home. The ‘bullied’ at school possibly becomes the bully at home. If you look honestly at your own life, you’ll find you’ve played both roles, and that both roles serve you.
'We learn important lessons, whichever side of the equation we are on. Rather than banging our heads against the dynamic and making it wrong, let’s work with it.'
If you'd like to read the rest, click here.
If you'd like a quick overview of the rest of the article now, here are my main points in brief:
• Opposites are magnetised together by universal law: 'Bully' = big on self/confidence = positive charge; 'Bullied' = small self/unconfident = negative charge.
• The purpose of this mutual attraction is to balance the charges out: that the bully might experience a prick of conscience or regret, and the bullied might experience a flash of anger/self-worth ('I don't deserve to be treated like this!')
• The outcome is that those who are careless (value others less) and careful (value others more) become caring (value self and others in equal balance).
• It can take a long time for us to learn this lesson! Hence my proposal to 'Bully On Purpose In Schools'. Why? To drill the skill of appropriate communication and the mindsets of worth and respect just as we drill multiplication tables! Why else? Because if we don't, we carry the tendency to abuse or attract abuse into our adult lives.
• How would this work? Imagine a room with students in threes: Each group is given a script of a typical childhood bullying scenario. Each student is given a role: Bully, Bullied, and Observer. They read out the script then are given another script and they change roles. By the end of the session, each child has played each role, so that the child who is typically a bully gets to stand in the shoes of the nervous bullied, and the child who is usually bullied gets to stand in the shoes of the brash bully, and both get to observe the dynamic, and the one who usually observes gets to engage. Teachers are monitoring these little role plays and after they are played out, there is a 'debrief' discussion about it and what it brings up for the students.
Eventually, when they are confident of the basic principles, they are given scenarios without a script so that they can practise responding spontaneously, on their feet, in real time. (Ideally this activity is coupled with active listening and appropriate assertiveness skills training.) The observer position is crucial, because it is the third point of view that delivers wisdom. (I didn't address this suffiicently in the article.)
These scenarios would be drilled so regularly and consistently that students come to recognise the patterns of abusive behaviour, respect and value self and other, learn the patterns of good communication, and develop resilience and creative problem-solving skills.
• These skills and mindsets are essential for a healthy life in which we are effectively pursuing our goals and dreams. So many of us run aground either at school, in adult relationshps or in business because we didn't master these communication skills. (I'm a point in case – stand by for a new book I'm writing about this...)