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Bullying in schools

"A good teacher can inspire hope, ignite the imagination, and instill a love of learning." - Brad Henry

Growing up, I was one of those kids in school that got picked on. Not to the amount that teachers noticed, but other kids called me names, made fun of my teeth and even though there's more severe forms of bullying, I still consider myself being bullied. Teachers did nothing. Told me to toughen up and eventually I had such thick skin that nothing could break me. Or so it seemed. On the inside, I was falling to pieces.

Like many, I turned to anger. I was angry at everyone. My teachers mostly. If only they've done something, taken action, stood up against bullying, then maybe my teen years would've been a lot easier.

Today, I'm a teacher myself. Bullying is something I actively work against and fighting bullying is something I think every teacher should consider a part of their profession.

It is utterly important to care about the students. Talk to them, give them respect, show them you're there if they ever need to talk. This of course takes time. My first year as a teacher was hard. I work in a "rough" neighborhood and had to fight very hard to gain respect from my students. With respect comes trust and that is of the outmost importance. Suddenly children tell you things, even the smallest of things. Always listen. Because one thing that got to me the most as a child was the fact that teachers didn't seem to listen. They heard me but wasn't really listening to what I was saying. Brushed me off. So eventually I stopped telling because they wouldn't listen anyways.

Even small things are important and several small events often lead or are a part of something bigger. Small words hurt too because words have power. Words have power to the point were they can bring a person down but words can also lift people up. Therefor it's important to teach children to speak up. Talk about bullying in school, notice it and most of all give kids the right tools to deal with it.
Teach children how to be kind to each other and how to be good citizens. How to turn negativity into positivity. How to say hello to that alone new kid in the corner, how to include instead of exclude. Bullying starts earlier and earlier in ages and needs to be prevented in the best of ways. Preventing bullying without an openness and a continuously held dialogue is hard.

I believe that when it comes to bullying in schools it is important for adults - principals, teachers and parents - to be united; that they do everything in their power to end the bullying. Because there's way too many prejudices about bullying being something "easy" to handle. Mentalities as "boys will be boys" or "a little teasing doesn't hurt" do a lot of damage because not only will the bullying never end but both victim and the bully will think it is normality and no good can come out of that. Therefor good communication between all parts effected by the bullying is a must. Always evaluate the resources you put in to stop the bullying so that it's clear what's going on at the moment. Of course, every school is different but I think it's important to show students that you're united and do not tolerate bullying of any kind.

Seeing how some teachers yet today do not care about their students upsets me. I think caring about the students is a part of the job. It is a good key to build a connection with the children, to show you care. That little moment of a teacher actually caring is the very moment I missed the most when I was growing up. And if you're being bullied, you feel alone and helpless enough as it is. If I had only one teacher to give me some sort of glimpse of hope, then maybe I wouldn't had been so angry all the time. Then maybe I would've liked school and then maybe I wouldn't had been picked on.

Think about what you're doing and how you act. Even the small things count. A simple hello can be enough to change the outcome of someone's day - it can turn an angry kid into a happy one.


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