Posted by Joanna on September 28, 2017
During last Monday’s professional day, ASM’s faculty and staff had the privilege of hearing Dr. Elizabeth Englander, an expert in the field of bullying and aggression. She spoke to us about childhood development, bullying and cyberbullying. New this year, our teachers will be implementing the M.A.R.C. bullying prevention curriculum. In the evening, Dr. Englander addressed our parents and presented research showing that bullying is expanding from the real world into the digital world.
Dr. Englander remarked that the term bullying is overused. It is normal for children to have arguments and disagreements with their friends and siblings. Distinct from bullying, learning to resolve disputes and to move forward from hurt feelings develops resiliency in our children. Resiliency and resolving conflict allow us to form and maintain healthy relationships with one another.
What then, really constitutes bullying? Bullying behavior has to have several components: aggression that is intentional; repetitive; has an imbalance of power; and that is impactful (physically or psychologically). There are “gateway” behaviors, that if left unchecked, may lead children to become bullies. Examples of these behaviors include ignoring, excluding, pushing, eye-rolling and spreading rumors. Adults don’t always realize that good kids can be bullies, and cutting off gateway behaviors at their root can prevent students from becoming future bullies. As educators, we respond to “gateway” behaviors that we see at school.
Dramatic changes in modern childhood include the disappearance of play and the presence of electronics. New research shows that children who have friends are able to develop resiliency if bullied. Parents can support their children socially by insuring that they have unstructured playtime with friends. At ASM, we understand the value of free play and recess is part of our students’ schedule from Children’s House through Middle School.
ASM’s school policy, the Montessori grace and courtesy curriculum and the implementation of the M.A.R.C. curriculum promote a respectful learning environment. ASM has, and will always take bullying very seriously. Parents and educators need to understand what it is, what it is not, and how to respond effectively.