Teaching Respect Is Key to Bullying Prevention

Monday September 30, 2013

By Sherri M. Gordon

Last week, I spent a good part of my day selling t-shirts for Volley for the Cure at my daughter's junior high. It was an interesting experience. I enjoyed observing the kids' interactions in the most social part of their school day.

It was also very educational to watch kids in a setting that is often riddled with various forms of bullying. Although I didn't see any physical bullying in my entire three hours there, I did see plenty of relational aggression and other subtle forms of bullying. Not only were girls giving one another mean looks and dishing out a few barbs, but boys were engaging in a few stare-downs too.

I also was amazed by the size difference at this age. Some of the boys were the size of full-grown men while other boys looked like they could still pass for a middle school student. As someone who works regularly to prevent bullying, I can see why the battle we fight is an uphill one.

But I think what struck me the most was the difference in the levels of respect the students had for one another and for the adults who were working in the area. For instance, there were some students that were very polite when asking to use the restroom while others spoke to the adults (and other students) with a tone dripping with attitude and lack of respect. And it occurred to me how crucial respect is in preventing bullying.

In fact, respect is at the root of bullying prevention. If children are taught to be respectful to others, and if they truly are respectful in actions and words, then it is highly unlikely they will bully other people. Because really, bullying is about a lack of respect for another human being. Bullies have no respect for other people. If they did, they would not target them. Instead, regardless of the motivation behind the bullying, bullies often feel entitled to treat people the way they do.

So this month, I decided to focus on a few key elements to bullying prevention including teaching respect and developing social skills. Check out 5 Ways to Teach Respect and Prevent Bullying and 7 Ways to Build Social Skills and Prevent Bullying. You also might find 9 Ways Kids Can Defend Themselves Against Bullies, 9 Strategies for Bully-Proofing Your Middle School Son and How to Bully-Proof Your Middle School Daugther useful as well.

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto

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