Bullying: A Big Complicated Problem with Many Simple Solutions

If each one of us untangled one string at a time...

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Weekly Reader's Current Health Steps Up to Address Bullying

Weekly Reader's Current Health Magazine is offering two free online special issues on bullying -- one for grades 4-7, the other for grades 7-12 -- worth reading and using in your classroom or at home. "Facing the Bully" issues are comprehensive and are also supported by an extensive teacher's guide available online.

It's hard for kids to open up about bullying. They're embarrassed and it makes them feel weak and can also make them feel nervous that as adults, we might make it worse. It's great to have a tool -- an article, a television show, a movie -- that gives you a way to start the conversation more easily. And I particularly like Facing the Bully because in Weekly Reader style, it talks with kids...and not at kids.

"There are meaningful steps that everyone can take to combat bullying and we want to reach as broad an audience as possible with this important information," said Erin R. King, Current Health's Senior Editor.

A few of the surprising facts about bullying cited in the special issue include:

The most powerful person in any bullying situation is often the bystander.

Bullies are frequently popular with other children.

Children most likely to be bullied are not the kids at the bottom of the social prestige ladder but actually those somewhere in the middle.

Additional articles define different forms of bullying, expose the myths surrounding cyberbullying, and outline ways to develop empathy in children and teens. Current Health editors spoke with experts and students and compiled a variety of simple steps that children can take to begin to solve the problem such as:

Speak up, stand up. "When one person stands up against the bullies, other people will stand up against them. Anyone could be the hero in the hallway," says New Jersey teen Ashley Craig, founder of Students Against Being Bullied — a group she started after being bullied herself.

Acknowledge your own actions. Children should ask themselves: "Have I done or said something hurtful?" Thoughtless phrases such as "That's so gay" can hurt even when no harm is meant. If children have done or said something, it's never too late to apologize—and change that behavior.

Other advice found in Current Health:

Parents are encouraged to listen carefully to their children's comments about bullying and to take them seriously. Mothers and fathers should avoid making potentially hurtful comments about people, as children mimic adults. Parents can also help their children care about others by volunteering together at a nursing home or animal shelter, as empathy has been linked to lower levels of bullying.

Good advice from Weekly Reader...after all these years, they're still a great resource.

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