National Bullying Prevention Month: Beyond bullying facts, stories, slogans, and campaigns

National Bullying Prevention MonthAn initiative of the Pacer Center, October is National Bullying Prevention Month.

Personally, I am a bit of a skeptic about the abundance of bullying campaigns, stories, and slogans these days. My kids, as part of an Oakland Unified School District initiative, saw the video Bully in 6th grade, and then participated in large group and in-classroom discussions. The movie is quite powerful, if you haven’t seen it. After the viewing, the students organized an anti-bullying and anti-bystander campaign that they promoted in school.

Awesome, right?

Fast forward to spring of the same year: The 6th graders had a female sex ed teacher who was more masculine and androgynous looking than traditional feminine norms. My kids told me that other kids were making fun of her every day at lunch. I was crestfallen.

Campaigns, movies, and advocacy efforts need to go deeper than “Don’t bully.” We already learned this in the sexual and reproductive health field from our safer sex efforts. In a nutshell, we’ve proven that just saying, “Use Condoms” doesn’t work. Our kids’ lives are more complex than a slogan.

Clean, clear messaging is important, don’t get me wrong. It needs to be coupled with deeper work that looks at personal and societal values and ethics, contextualized in the complexity of our most vulnerable kids’ lives.

Learn more anti-bullying resources at George Lucas’ Edutopia.

Watch Jose Bauermeister’s talk about sexting and well-being from YTH Live 2013.

Creative Commons photo by Lennart Tange

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