Beyond Bullying: Building a Culture of Care



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"Caring and compassion are not soft, mushy goals. They are a part of the hard-core subjects we are responsible for teaching. [...] The capacity to see the world as others might is central to unsentimental compassion and at the root of both intellectual skepticism and empathy."
- Deborah Meier


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SWG # 3: Boys, Girls, and Bullies
Emily Craig, David Nisbet, Lily Oliveira, Allison Sklar


Introduction:


Bullying intrinsically calls into question issues of power. Whether blatant physical violence, or more insidious forms of emotional abuse, the ramifications for students and the entire school community are negative. Various strategies have been packaged and implemented by Ministries of Education and school boards to manage the issue of bullying. The fact is that some schools are spaces where learning and growing are inhibited by the pervasive social tension of instances of bullying, exclusion, and negative conflict, while others have a drastically different atmosphere typified by mutual respect, empathy, compassion, inclusion and support. What you will engage with in the text, videos, and images below is the product of a group of student teachers attempting to tease apart the complexities of the issue. Many voices have criticized anti-bullying approaches that have been used in some settings, and while our group has been persuaded that zero-tolerance solutions are ineffective, and have explored alternative solutions instead, we have attempted to allow for a margin of intellectual tension. In other words, we have tried to not let some of the dilemmas we have encountered on this journey inhibit us from exploring further solutions.

What you will find below is our group's pathway on this journey. We first examine the issue of bullying, recognizing that it is a real and lived experience for many in the school system. We appreciate that the effects are emotional and/or physical distress, and acknowledge this as harming the learning environment. We then discuss some of the strategies that have been and are currently being employed in many school communities, such as Zero Tolerance, and suggest how these strategies are ineffective. We then turn to some of the voices and principles that have emerged from our own experience that we have found encouraging. Finally, we address one of the nagging dilemmas that is implicit within the discussion of bullying; the issue of legitimate power. Certain assumptions around the issue of who has power/who doesn't and who has the right to exercise it, have undergirded much of our thinking. One conclusion that the reader should be aware of from the outset is that bullying is part of a larger issue that calls into question the character of our schools, or the kind of culture of a school. While the journey may seem nebulous at times, we hope that it is a valuable exploration into an issue that breaches the confines of the narrowness with which it has far too often been addressed in the past.


Bullying as an Issue:



Bullying is phenomenon that happens in and out of schools. It is commonly found in a workplace and even social groups. However, for our purpose, we will concentrate on contemporary bullying in schools. Bullying Canada says that, “one in 10 children have bullied others and as many as 25% of children in grades four to sic have been bullied. A 2004 study published in the medical Journal of Pediatrics found that about one in seven Canadian children aged 11 to 16 are victims of bullying. Studies have found bullying occurs once every seven minutes on the playground and once every 25 minutes in the classroom.”[1] As seen in the initiating reading, “A Bully’s Tale,” the bullied can become a bully so that the negative attention is shifted off them and put upon a different victim. Bullying is usually pictured at the traditional physical hurting of an individual or group of students, but bullying occurs in various ways. By secluding or teasing an individual either in person or on any online source is also considered to be an act of bullying. These kinds of bulling are called Verbal Bullying, (name calling, teasing, the spread of rumours, racist comments), Social Bullying (exclusion of others from a certain group, publicly embarrassing someone) and the new and popular kind, Cyber Bullying (use of electronics to intimidate, tease or spread rumours of someone).
Contemporary generation of students now have to face another kind of bullying which is a lot harder to spot and prevent from happening. Cyber bulling is so common because so many students have access to a cell phone or the internet.
The video above is a perfect example that demonstrates the dangers of cyber bulling and how it can end so tragically.



olweus-bullying-circle.gif







This figure below, demonstrates the different people that are involved in bullying. This diagram has lead us to realize that number is stronger than the power of one bully. A culture of care would promote individuals to not be potential witnesses but to become resistant, defender witnesses. This would most definitely reduce bullying. Usually, it takes 10 seconds for bullying to stop when peers intervene, or disapprove the bullying behaviour.[2]





Folly of the Quick Fix:

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http://www.justkiddingcartoons.com/i/Cartoons/Cartoon_30wtmk.jpg

Anti bullying programs, workshops and systems exist throughout North America. Ironically, bullying rates are soaring through the country. This is an epidemic that is clearly not being stopped by current methods. The problem lies herein: the current methods aim at treatment rather than prevention. In the schools studied where treatment was applied, the bullying reoccurred. Articles upon articles exist pertaining to anti-bullying methods that do not work.
Telling does not work, reporting incidents does not work, zero-tolerance does not work. Telling and reporting do not work because students are afraid that telling will not aid the situation. What’s worse, they live in fear that if they report incidents, this will put them in the spotlight as more of a target. Zero tolerence is when a school automatically suspends or expels a student for bullying. Instead of repenting for their sins, this means that the bully gets further behind in his or her studies and returns to class even more frustrated. Bullies in this instance are then labeled by teachers and peers as troublemakers, and it becomes a vicious cycle.


Solutions:

The solutions that are described below are not the answer to end bullying. Rather, it is looking at the root of the problem and figuring out where the problem begins. By identifying the root of the problem, it becomes easier to prevent bullying from existing at all. We found the problem in the intentions and reasons why bullies bully. It is a defensive mechanism from being teased and picked on themselves. Then where do we start? Nel Noddings proposes a community of care, where students will learn to care for strangers for the better good of the community.


Nel Noddings:

Nel_Noddings_Photo2.jpg
"Nel Noddings is a contemporary philosopher of education. She is world famous for her innovative approach to moral education, which she calls caring. She suggests that a caring attitude is necessary to enable changes in our schools and the whole educational system.
Noddings's approach is an ethical and educational model to be implemented in school classrooms. Noddings's vision includes schools designed as the centers of care where youth can work in a collaborative manner. A caring education, she argues, will enable children to develop into adults capable of caring for others in this world.
A central concept in Noddings's ethics is relation. A caring relation is an encounter between two human beings that creates a sense of connection. Both the caregiver and the care receiver contribute to this relationship. A caregiver has a specific state of consciousness described by Noddings as receptive and full of desire to help a stranger in need. This desire constitutes a motivational displacement. A care receiver must necessarily be responsive as otherwise a caring relation would not be mutual and reciprocal. The desire to be cared for represents a universal human characteristic.

Noddings stresses a moral life in the community and its specific importance for students who are especially proud of group loyalty. The hard questions of self understanding and learning to apply the compassionate rules of the group in relation to treating strangers should become part of students' own ethical and social responsibility. Noddings thinks that students should begin to understand the fragility of facts devoid of context and speaker. She points that value education should not be dogmatic. She calls fundamentalism the biggest stumbling block to educating for pluralistic values. She insists that a critical and appreciative examination of religion belongs in schools and students would benefit from it."[3]
—Inna Semetsky


The following video is a clip on "Building a Community of Allies" organized by the "Community Builders Youth Leadership". The video incorporates Nel Noddings idea of building a community of care within a school and attaches it to the above figure of the circle of people who are involved in bullying. By being a leader, a student will no longer be a potential witness but a resister, defender witness. Number out powers any bully, thus, if students were to stand up for one another, they will begin to build a community of allies.


Interested in Nel Noddings? Here's an article she wrote, explaining further what she means by a "Community of Care".
Caring In Education - Nel Noddings


Restorative Justice:

Restorative Justice is an old idea with a new name; this technique of conflict resolution was used in Aboriginal and non-retaliatory communities centuries ago. "It represents a return of the simple wisdom of viewing conflict as an opportunity for a community to learn and grow. It operates on the premise that conflict, even criminal conflict, inflicts harm, and therefore individuals must accept responsibility for repairing that harm. Communities are empowered to choose their response to conflict. Victims, offenders and communities actively participate in devising mutually beneficial solutions, and implementing those solutions. Conflicts are resolved in a way that restores harmony in the community members’ relationships, and allows people to continue to live together in a safer, healthy environment."[4] In the case of bullying in schools, restorative justice advocates that the bully, the bullied, parents and school officials and administration need to come together to ensure the problem is resolved and all parties are reintegrated into the school community.

i) Restorative Justice in the OCDSB
Introduction to Restorative Justice Approaches
Excerpts from Professional Development Presentation at
Woodroffe High School
Friday, November 13, 2009
Presented by:
Amy Hannah, Melanie Seabrook, Dan White


Progressive Discipline Ministry Policy / Procedure 145
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http://www.realjustice.org/Media/SocDiscWindowRio.jpg

Programs and activities that focus on the building of healthy relationships, character development, and peer relations provide the foundation for an effective continuum of strategies within a school and school-related activities. When inappropriate behaviour occurs, disciplinary measures should be applied within a framework that shifts the focus from one that is solely punitive to one that is both corrective and supportive. Promote programs and activities that focus on the building of healthy relationships, character development and good citizenship, Continuum of supports, Awareness of student’s background, Safe and caring school climate, Community partnerships , Flexibility and Creativity

Shifting Gears

OLD PARADIGM ------------> NEW PARADIGM


· Behaviour defined as
breaking the school rules.

· Behaviour defined as adversely affecting others (empathy).
· Focus on establishing blame
or guilt, on the past (did he/she do it?)

· Focus on collaborative problem-solving by expressing feelings and needs and how to meet them in the future.
· Adversarial relationship and
Process (zero tolerance)

· Dialogue and negotiation – everyone involved in communicating and cooperating with each other (progressive discipline).

Small Impromptu Conversations

When challenging behaviour with students…
· What were you thinking at the time?
· What have you thought about since?
· Who has been affected by what you have done? In what way have they been affected?
· What do you think you need to do to make things right?

To help those affected students…
· What did you think when you realized what’s happened?
· What impact has this incident had on you and others?
· What has been the hardest thing for you?
· What do you think needs to happen to make things right?


Restorative Mediation

·
Address problem to keep them from escalating and to resolve the problem quickly
·
Actively engages individuals to express their feelings and think about the impact of their behaviour
· Your role is of a facilitator not disciplinarian.
· Commit to follow-up, it helps to reintegrate students.

From a school's perspective...

An entire day of Professional Development was dedicated to the explanation, encouragement and exemplification of restorative justice practices within the walls of schools. While restorative justice seems like a positive and holistic approach to the solution of school bullying and violence, the idea of it was met with skepticism and resistance. While some teachers simply gauged the framework with questions, others quickly wrote off the idea mainly because of its implementation and practice. Their arguments being that actual implementation would mean the following: transforming the entire schools beliefs and practices on discipline; having one staff member as an overseer; generous amounts of time dedicated to following each step to ensure that it is carried out properly and effectively; and changing the mentality of the school’s population, not just of the staff, but students as well. While in theory restorative justice seems like the ideal solution, the perspectives of current teachers in local high schools proves why this avenue is the road less travelled in terms of dealing with bullying as an issue.

ii) Ridgemont High School
Ridgemont is a school that has implemented a restorative justice framework to address instances of bullying, but more broadly, to promote a better school culture. The keys to their approach are: building relationships; training as many students as possible in restorative principles; taking the time to follow-up; viewing the time committed as an investment for student success; including in their educator paradigm the idea that the role goes beyond the walls of the school, and that the broader school community needs to be actively involved; and having a staff that fits with the underlying philosophy of the approach. The school uses some OCDSB resources, such as the "Communitycommunity_of_character_logo.gif of Character" posters, but also bring in outside facilitators to train students in restorative practices. They are constantly refining, evaluating, and trying to improve the way they implement the policy. They are always trying to ensure a "tipping point" in which enough of the school's population is on-board to colour the entire atmosphere of the school. In essence they are trying to foster particular social conventions and a culture that sees some behaviour as acceptable and others as socially unacceptable. The administration stand by this approach, and express that since implementing the restorative framework, a variety of criteria-both formal and informal-used to gauge a school's success, have drastically improved. They say that all that they do was already a part of the majority of the staff's educational philosophy, but that implementing a more formal articulable structure 2 years ago, has given them a better toolset to perpetuate their aims in the broader school community.





Dealing with the Dilemma of Power:


One of the key considerations that we just began to engage with and discuss is the issue of power. Underpinning much of the positions we as a group have taken are certain assumptions about power and the exercising of it. Bullying is fraught with suggestions of both appropriate and inappropriate conceptions of the use of power. In many of the cases that we read and thought about, bullies were often unaware of the fact that what they were doing could be labelled bullying. Furthermore, they often did not appreciate the negative impacts their actions had on victims. Is the issue of bullying merely a case of individuals with a lack of the social skill set to realize that what they are doing goes against the social conventions of the institution? Far from it. People and institutions are incredibly complex entities. Power is exercised for many reasons and in many forms. For instance, teachers might bully students. What about the hypocricy of this? A student may want to bully another student as a way of carving out a space within the power plays going on constantly within the school for them to exercise their own autonomy. The examples and illustrations are endless.

The underlying assumption in our estimation of the issue is that there are appropriate and inappropriate uses of power that must be made explicit by the leadership in the school. We did not delve into the degree to which these guidelines can be democratically conceived of, though that would be well worth considering. To perpetuate a particular vision of a school culture, the question of legitimacy must be addressed. This issue of power must be explored further as it is at the very heart of the issue of bullying.



Conclusion:


One of the key considerations that we just began to engage with and discuss is the issue of power. Underpinning much of the positions we as a group have taken are certain assumptions about power and the exercising of it. Bullying is fraught with suggestions of both appropriate and inappropriate conceptions of the use of power. In many of the cases that we read and thought about, bullies were often unaware of the fact that what they were doing could be labelled bullying. Furthermore, they often did not appreciate the negative impacts their actions had on victims. Is the issue of bullying merely a case of individuals have a lack of the social skill set to realize that what they are doing goes against the social conventions of the institution? Far from it. People and institutions are incredibly complex entities. Power is excercised for many reasons and in many forms. For instance, teachers might bully students. What about the hypocracy of this? A student may want to bully another student as a way of carving out a space within the power plays going on constantly within the school for them to exercise their own autonomy. The examples and illustrations are endless. Suspending our concerns over this issue however, as a group we were able to explore strategies aimed at addressing bullying in schools that we see as ineffective, and methods that show more promise such as restorative justice. The issue of bullying in schools lies close to the heart of the question of the kind of school community and culture we imagine these institutions to be.


Presentation:

Please take a moment and navigate through our presentation. The link will take you to the presentation. Navigating around our presentation can be a little tricky. We suggest putting your mouse on the RIGHT arrow at the bottom of the screen, and clicking it to move to the next frame. Try not to move your mouse around, because it seems to throw off the navigation.

We welcome any feedback in how this works for people. Just post in our group's discussion section.


Enjoy!

Prezi






Works Cited:


Cassidy, Wanda. "From Zero Tolerance to a Culture of Care." [Education Canada 4 (3), 2005, pp. 40-42].

Hannah, Seabrooke and White, Restorative Justice in the OCDSB. November 13, 2009.

"Noddings, Nel." Encyclopedia of Religious and Spiritual Development. 2005. SAGE Publications. 19 Oct. 2009. <http://www.sage-ereference.com/religion/Article_n175.html>.

Simon Fraser University, The Centre for Restorative Justice. Burnaby, British Columbia. Accessed 14 December, 2009.



Initiating Readings...

Marvin Zuker, AA Legal Perspective on School Violence and Bullying.@ [Orbit 34 (2), 2004, pp. 14-17]


Justice Marvin A. Zuker presents a legal perspective on bullying in schools and teen violence. He highlights the importance of looking at the legal issues that connect with bullying by describing just a few of the recent cases of school violence and bullying.
One of Zuker’s concerns is that the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA) only applies to those over the age of thirteen, therefore violent behaviour occurring in elementary schools is left to “the school system and/or other legislation such as child protection” to deal with (14). Because intent and the understanding of consequences is questionable in younger children, attempting to understand this process as teachers and creating positive and responsive relationships with students, teachers can begin to combat the problem of student violence (14).
While many schools have implemented zero-tolerance policies on bullying they are ineffective for many reasons that lead to student isolation and often propel those affected into the criminal justice system. Because of the Safe Schools Act the recent assumption has been that principals are not in a position to use their own discretion when dealing with disciplinary issues. However, this is not the case and there are many mitigating circumstances and situations in which mandatory actions do not apply. The YCJA also promotes many other avenues other than legal ones when responding to less serious offenses by youth. The measures would still hold the youth accountable, but they would be dealt with in an effective and timely fashion and would “provide the opportunity for the broader community to play in important role in developing community-based responses to youth crime” (17).

zuker.jpgJustice Marvin Zuker



Robin M. Bright,
AIt=s Just a Grade 8 Girl Thing: Aggression in Teenage Girls@
[Gender and Education 17 (1), 2005, pp. 93-101].



This article outlines a large problem in schools: adults ignoring cries for help from victims of bullying. The victim in this case, Caroline, was in fact blamed for the bullying that she was experiencing. The girls in question were passive – using only words and bothering Caroline when teachers were not around, so that they would not be caught. When Caroline confronted them, they denied her request to lay off. The principal then completely ignored a letter from Caroline, explaining the situation, and asking for assistance. In the end, the torment was so much so that Caroline and her family had to move to not only another school, but another town entirely.


Anonymous, AA Bully=s Tale@ [from Education Canada 45 (3), 2005, pp. 43-44].


The Summary of A Bully’s Tale – anonymous (female Biologist)
The 25 year old author of this article describes how she was physically and emotionally bullied in elementary school. She begins with explaining that it does not matter how hard she tries to suppress her memories of being bullies and convince herself that it has made her a stronger person because it still keeps coming back to haunt her. She cannot remember when the bullying began but she does know that grades 5 to 7 were the worst. She was bullied for her physique and the clothing she wore. Her classmates would call her names, pin her to the floor, violated her privacy and personal things and played mind games with her. She does list more acts from girls rather than boys.
The repetitiveness of the name calling, she confesses, lead her to believe in them and loose any confidence that she had in her. The lack of confidence then prevented her to ask an adult for help. She felt that she had no way out and had moments of weakness where suicide was contemplated and prayers for a brain tumour.
The author describes her moment of reaction towards a classmate who was bullying her. She grabbed the bully and shook her. The author wanted the girl to experience what it felt like to be bullied. Both girls were frightened by the anger that was being portrayed. The author describes her fear of her own violent outrage. (This could have lead to a possible school shooting...) After that episode, the author explains that the bullying stopped. She resented that it had to come down to violence. She further explains how fighting back is a way that the bullied react.
Interesting enough, the author goes further to explain that she was not only a victim of bullying but a bully herself. She was bullying people that had not bullied her before. The author wonders why bullying comes so easily to adolescents and gives the possible explanation of social acceptance. She felt that conforming to the behaviour would make her feel accepted in the classroom. She explains this to be another way that the bullied react.
The author does express her feelings towards the teachers’ lack of interference and awareness. She explains that she wanted to believe that the teachers really were not conscious of the bullying that was happening, because if they did and did not react, that would make her feel even worse.


Wanda Cassidy, "From Zero Tolerance to a Culture of Care" [Education Canada 4 (3), 2005, pp. 40-42].


Summary of “From Zero Tolerance to a Culture of Care” by Wanda Cassidy
In this article Cassidy interrogates the policy of Zero Tolerance for bullying in the educational setting. She insists that Zero Tolerance policies are ineffective and a misguided response to bullying that further alienates offenders, and promotes instead the concept of cultivating a “culture of care” as a more effective way of diminishing bullying. She argues that a blanket policy like zero tolerance fails to take into account the context of bullying and perpetuate a culture of fear within the school, undermining a positive community atmosphere. She traces the origins of zero tolerance policies to a military context and challenges the use of such a model in a school setting. She questions what the application of such a model says about the kinds of spaces we envision the school setting being.

Cassidy further deconstructs zero tolerance policies and unmasks many of the assumptions that this method of targeting bullying makes, such as students always knowingly misbehave, and that education is a privilege that can be taken away. She argues that exclusion as a means of dissuasion is ineffective and causes students to be labelled as ‘misbehavers’. In talking with students that have been subjected to this form of exclusion and negative labeling, she articulates the gap in the system in that these students are never actually aided in some way, and that this neglect inherent in zero tolerance settings is detrimental to their personal development.

41.jpgWanda Cassidy

Erica Goode, Home Alone: Does ethnic and racial diversity foster social isolation?@ [New York Times Magazine, 7 June 2007].

A summary of Home Alone: Does ethnic and racial diversity foster social isolation? – Erica Goode
This article is based on the argument of Harvard’s political scientist Robert Putnam that diversity in a large city leads to the discomfort and isolation of civilians. Individuals in diverse cities are likely to not trust other people. They become very independent and have a hard time trusting people and maintaining friendships. This sense of loneliness then turns into unhappiness and powerless. Interestingly, individuals are half as likely to trust people of other races and of their own race. Overall, social capital is decreased with the increase of diversity.
Putnam explains how the overload of diverse messages from different groups leads people to feel discomfort and unsure of who or what to believe. This leads to individuals isolating themselves from social gatherings and civic bonds.
Goode ends the article in an optimistic manner. She concludes with Putnam reassuring that this will change with time because society is always changing and diversity is a benefit to a city.

images.jpgErica Goode





  1. ^ http://www.bullyingcanada.ca/content/239900
  2. ^ http://www.bullyingcanada.ca/content/239900
  3. ^ "Noddings, Nel." Encyclopedia of Religious and Spiritual Development. 2005. SAGE Publications. 19 Oct. 2009. <http://www.sage-ereference.com/religion/Article_n175.html>.
  4. ^ Simon Fraser University, The Centre for Restorative Justice. Burnaby, British Columbia. Accessed 14 December, 2009.