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Back to School: Confronting Bullying in 2012

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It’s back to school time, and with the return to school comes anxiety on the part of students and parents about bullying. Bullying and harassment is especially a problem for girlsstudents who do not conform to gender norms, and LGBT students.

While it is of course important to educate students and parents about effective techniques for avoiding and standing up to students who bully, most articles and lists about the best ways to avoid bullying are woefully one-sided.

These lists address targets of bullying, rather than the students who bully, and can therefore tend towards victim-blaming. Instead of placing responsibility only on targets and bystanders of bullying, we need to charge students who bully with changing their attitudes. Here is a handy guide – for bullies – on how to avoid bullying:

  • If you see someone you don’t like, simply leave them alone. Don’t make disparaging remarks or tease them.
  • Don’t use slurs like “slut” and “whore” to describe classmates or peers, and don’t forward “sexts” or explicit emails.
  • Don’t make fun of people based on gender or gender stereotypes. Everyone should be able to dress however they want, play whatever sports they want, and take whatever classes they want.
  • Use the buddy system: if you feel unable to stop yourself from bullying another person, avoid being alone with him or her, and stick with a friend who you can trust to intervene – NOT egg you on or join in.
  • Develop a safety plan to make sure that intervention is never far away. For example, stay in sight of authority figures like teachers or cafeteria monitors who will step in if you begin bullying another student.
  • Block people online if you cannot stop yourself from sending bullying messages.
  • Avoid social media and texting entirely if you cannot stop yourself from making disparaging remarks about others.
  • Speak to parents, teachers, or other trusted adults about why you feel the need to bully others.
  • Apologize to the person you’ve hurt. It will make it less likely that you’ll allow yourself to do it again.

For more information about bullying and harassment, and its connection to Title IX, visitwww.nwlc.org/bullying.

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