Anti-bullying program at Hayward schools

Had a story on this program spearheaded by Lynn Bravewomon in yestesday’s paper and got a request to toss up a blog about it for discussion purposes.

saysomethingcoverAlso got a call from Lea Lyon, who wrote a book in 2005 called “Say Something” that also encourages kids to take an active role in quashing bullying behavior at school. You can learn more about Lyon and her books on her website.

Here’s a little more on an anecdote mentioned in the story, from Bravewomon:

“With increasing frequency, as students learn how to speak up when bullying language is heard, they do so. There are stories of many students at many schools who are empowering one another to identify themselves as allies and speak up to their peers to stop bullying language. Student allies support the target by breaking the silence that so often occurs with the witnesses of bullying. One example occurred in an elementary classroom. Two girls overheard a passing and cruel comment muttered to this target by a child moving across the classroom.  They both stood up and clearly stated, “We don’t tolerate bullying at our school, it hurts everyone who hears it, stop it now.”  Students and teacher alike were surprised and impressed with this well-timed and effective display of ally behavior. Their teacher, who had been working with the Safe and Inclusive Schools Program and teaching the importance of being allies, praised the girls and continued teaching. The student who had been the target of bullying  reports that after 2 or 3 weeks of support from a variety of allies in his class, the occurrence of bullying fell from multiple times daily to ‘maybe one time in a week, maybe less’. This student also reports he feels comfortable going to all parts of the recess yard and that people are friendlier.”

Eric Kurhi

  • Michael Moore

    Eric, thank you for sticking this up on to Hayword. I went to Lea’s website. It really is about her books and her art and has not much to do with the topic of bullying. I appreciate the link but it had not much interst to me.

    As to the topic of bullying, I think we all know how to recognize a bully, both from childhood and as adults. The question I have is that I believe a large part of maturation is learning to deal with all varieties of the human experience. That includes the bad and the ugly which bullying certainly is.

    Do we really want to socialize children to not expect or tolerate bullying behavior? Do we want children to walk away from all conflict? Do we want teachers to take over this moral teaching role? Is all negatively received behavior bullying?

    From this source and others it appears to me that tolerance and intolerance are quickly morphing in to an antibullying stand that castigates diverse opinions and actions and encourages passive acceptance of the majority.

    Liberty and Freedom for the individual can be eradicated in the guise of anti-bullying and politically correct speech. I wonder.

  • Sherry Blair

    I totally agree with you, Michael. If there is anything that is dangerous in a free country it is that kind of group think. However, it has been my experience that we have become so separated from one another that we can walk right by when something terrible is happening. That is not good. Take the recent case of the man who walked into the water at the beach while people stood and did nothing. That lack of compassionate action is really offensive.

    Also, I have been in groups (think adolescent girls) where the girl with the most power turns the others against the least powerful. I welcome Bravewoman’s training because it teaches the individual to take a stand for what he/she actually feels inside rather than going along with the crowd.

    Recently, I had a problem with bullying by our mayor at the Sustainability Committee meeting. I posted about it here. I think there might have been committee members who had not made the same judgement that he did, but no one spoke for me. Instead, they saw it in their politcal self interest to remain silent and go along with his ruling.

    It would have been wonderful if they had been in the habit of taking action in the face of bullying. As it is, I am forced to hold them all responsible.

    I don’t mean to sound like I am whining either. That experience taught me not to cooperate with injustice. Wasn’t that the bottom line for both Ghandi and Martin Luther King? Non-cooperation with injustice frees me from the need to compromise my integrity.

  • Sherry Blair

    I guess I forgot that the important thing in teaching this is that the individual child must be the one to determin what is offensive to him and not go by what other people think. The child’s actions, must come from his heart, not from some rule of behavior.

  • Michael Moore

    Sherry, Gandhi-ji and MLK were bullied and bloodied on repeated occassions. Their response was to stand firm and to actively resist with non-violence. That stand is quite different than what is being presented, both in article and by law. Satyagraha is very powerful and is not taught in school. I totally support it, at its most basal level.

    Empowering the unempowered is the heart of the Mahatma’s message. It toppled the British and Jim Crow and brought our troops home from Vietnam finally.

    Having teachers decide what is bullying behavior is not what I believe is their role in the classroom. Utilizing non-violence to defeat bullyism is powerful and should be taught to all, but it should be taught by those that are trained, not teachers in the HUSD. Let them first be certificated in the discipline before they are asked to teach something that they are not suitably trained for.

  • Some years ago I worked with Ms. Bravewoman. She is a powerful, self-confident and compassionate woman who I found to be an inspiration. Any child who is fortunate enough to be in a session with her is a child who is given the tools to become empowered. It is too bad that HUSD has not made better use of Ms. Bravewoman’s skills.

  • K Rocchio

    I agree that it is important to address the issue of bullying. I don’t think any child should have their sense of security or well-being compromised. I have seen this program in practice and witnessed the positive impact on many occasions.

    I see the points brought up by Michael and I also think we must look forward. I think it is just as important to teach our children how to avoid becoming victims. We must teach our children to take charge of their own circumstances. There may not always be an “ally” standing close by. We must take accountability for ourselves. There will always be those who do not like the way we look, what we say or what we do. We must decide for ourselves if we want to empower those people to change who we are. We have the choice to take back the power. I realize that bullies need to be stopped and it is a serious problem. I think to address this entire issue we must support those children who fall victim to this problem and make sure we are giving them the tools to stand tall. We need to instill a strong sense of self-worth and confidence in our own children. A bully has the need to gain power over another individual. If they find they have no power, they move on.

  • Sherry Blair

    I like all these points of view!
    Bullying is all about power and occurs wherever there is an imbalance of power. It happens in the homes of all our children in varying degrees. Think about the power struggle between mother and father, for example.

    What happens at home shows up in school and becomes more comples. In an ideal world, we would have people on staff who knew how to deal with the imbalances; but given the world as it actually is, we must do the best we can to solve the problems as early as they are identified. That means at school, on the playground and on the streets, by parents, teachers and neighbors.

    We must all become good at acting according to our own conscience whenever bullying confronts us. We can of course choose to walk away or stand by and do nothing or we can act to bring about change. It’s up to us.

    Having this conversation brings this out where we can reflect and become more conscious. Having conversations in school will do the same for our children.

  • Sherry Blair

    Sorry for taking up so much space here, but this subject really interests me.

    I think bullying is the exteranl sign of internal problems, both within the one who bullies and the one who is bullied. When this happens in front of us, we have an opportunity to help.

    We see this everyday. In a family for instance, if one person bullies the other, the other family members can either go along with the bullying or stand up for solving the problem, I have known many women who had to stand up to their husbands who were disciplining their children beyond reason. That is an act of love. But in family therapy, which goes to the root of things, that kind of event that tend to repeat itself in the family can be healed altogether, To do nothing is to accept a situation that is really not acceptable.

    A good school counselor can identify children with these problems and working with parents can help to find solutions. A bad one can make it worse.

  • Michael Moore

    Sherry, this is a very good use for Hayword in my opinion. The question is do we want teachers to take over this moral teaching role? Is all negatively received behavior bullying? I certainly agree with you that good counselors are terrific assets. I am concerned that bullying instruction will result in unaccredited instructors and counselors who are supporting their own undisclosed agendas.

  • Sherry Blair

    I’m glad you are liking it too, Michael. I think I don’t really like moral teaching either. Education should be about bringing out the truth. I do think teachers can facilitate this through conversations with children. I have those kinds of conversations with my grandson. He is such a clear thinker. He helps me to clear up my own fuzzy thinking.It is quite amazing. I tried to do this with my childen too, but I was insecure and felt caught between the needs of my children and the needs of the system.

    I think it is unfortunate that the adults dominate the system, keeping the children oppressed until they find a way to get free. The more “different” the child is, the more they are oppressed and yet what makes us different is exactly what can make a difference in the world. I fear that these different children might be the humans that will be of most value to our survival as a species.

    When my kids were in school, I spoke with many parents throughout the district whose kids were underachieving or left school not because there was something wrong with them, but because they were gifted but not seen. The system labeled them drop outs and truants and developed programs to make them change, but not how to change the system to include them in meaningful ways.

    The same happens in families too.

  • Michael Moore

    Sherry, I am not so sure that I would agree with you that education is about bringing out the truth. The truth as we learn as we gain experience is sometimes whatever the winner wants the truth to be.

    I think perhaps I think that education is about teaching children basic needed skills like language, reading, writing, science, exercise, citizenship, athletics, music, mathematics, history and the like. I do not believe that the truth about mathematics needs to be taught so much as the mechanics initially. The same applies to language. The truth of language is that English is not such an easy language. Do we want to teach that English is a poor choice for a language in Hayward?

    There certainly is a place for truth and clear thinking, but K-12 education should be about learning the skills to be successful, not the truth of being successful. Learning the truth about success comes from experience and K-9 students have not for the most part learned much. Unless you ask them and they may well tell you that they know so much more than you and I.

  • Sherry Blair

    I don’t think the answer is in “either-or” but in “both -and.” Both male and female views are essential, for instance. The “and” is the synergy created by two or more together. It works best when one does not dominate the other. When we have conversations, it sometimes seems like a competition with winners and losers. But I think that if all points of view are allowed equal expression, the best possible ideas will emerge and everyone will be a winner.

  • Michael Moore

    Sherry, I think we are saying the same thing, though I do not include gender within the parameters. Experience and Education to me are the result, as you stated so eloquently “of synergy created … when one does not dominate at all….”

    My concern and reason for posting is that I believe that teachers generally are good at presenting material that will result in the best possible ideas emerging and that the students will learn. Teachers are not the folks who should be selective about what they teach or even how they present it.

    I want teachers to present the curriculum, not make their own choices of what to teach. If the teachers want to do that, that should occur in university or independent study, not in state required education.

  • qodrn

    I still think this is really the job of parents. Others have to do it when the parents are not successful for what ever reason. Most of the bullies I have known have come from poor homes. Bullies will leave you alone if you don’t give in and you don’t react much. Don’t even need to really talk to them; they don’t want to hear.

  • Michael Moore

    Qodrn, are you suggesting that HUSD should not cover bullying as a part of its curriculum. I certainly agree with you that the responsibility of socialization begins with the parents and extended family.

    I am not so sure about bullying coming from poverty as much as it comes from societal support for negative behavior.

    You raise great issues not here yet.

  • qodrn

    I think the classroom should set rules and inforce them. Both the bullied and the bullies know exactly what is going on and why it is being done. I don’t see schools as the maker of norms but the user of already established norms.

  • John W. Kyle

    On the subject of ‘Bullying’

    Although empathetic to the victims of school yard bullies, I take another viewpoint to that which I see
    being dominant as expressed here on the blog.

    The fact is that victims, or those perceived as victims, need instruction in the arts of self defense. I would describe as ’self defense’ mechanism any inculcation by parents which builds self esteem, thus confidence, in aid of a child’s need to stand up and personally face the problem.

    It is my belief that ’bullies’ suffer deficiencies in their own social skills. In some family situations it might be seen as reaction to bullying by siblings which in turn are the result of family disorder. In short, identification of school yard bullies ought be followed up by administrative insistence that parents be held responsible and counseled to achieve correction. It might even require filing of a formal complaint to police authority by school administration and/or social services at the County level.

  • Michael Moore

    Qodrn, I certainly agree with you.

  • Hmmm John Kyle perhaps you should re-read your entry and see if it applies to your actions on this blog.

  • John W. Kyle

    Katty Booth

    …. true to your own character, another snide remark.

    incidentally….;./ be aware that we enjoy over 900 parolees and probationers in zip code area 94541….

    Try to sleep well with that thought in mind!

  • I sleep fine..they are less of a worry to me than you. Just knew I would get a rise out of you…you are so true to form Mr. Kyle. TTFN

  • John W. Kyle

    Kitty Boot

    You are a cheap shot artist nothing more!

    It was ytou who decried my concern over the parolee count in Hayward and Oakland.

    2010-2011 tabulation of absentee rate at Longwood,d for the year just ended. Your inability to foresee solutions does not deter you from critizing those who think a soluition is possible…. truly a mindless individual.

    Which partially explains your iability to take the bar exam!

  • :=) back to that again? sso glad I give you something to post about.

  • John W. Kyle


    just for that I will not reveal the latest about Ringold! You would mot apptove of the use of portables!

    Even when it removes the risk of attending class immediately above the Hayward Fault!

    A fact which I pointed out to others…. off the blog.

    Please continue yout interest in those trite matters at which you are the leading ‘expert’!

  • The name is Booth. I have much bigger things to interest me right now Mr. Kyle. I just snuck a peek at the blog and couldn’t resist pushing your buttons. Have a nice day…continue to find snide inane remarks to shoot my way. They provide much humor and distraction.

  • John W. Kyle

    K/ b….

    humor? How dull !