That’s an awful lot of meanness.
Trying to eliminate the problem, schools are scurrying to develop new anti-bullying programs and legislatures are writing new laws to criminalize bullying. Sadly, neither of these strategies is likely to make a serious dent unless they are part of a much broader effort to create a positive school climate that discourages all forms of hurtful or demeaning words or acts.
Anti-bullying strategies seek to crack down on bullying, hoping to deter abusive behavior by threats of punishment. They often create legalistic procedures that put a heavy responsibility on schools or courts to prove the conduct occurred.
A better strategy is to instill, reinforce, and reward the values of empathy, compassion, and acceptance. Instead of anti-bullying programs, we need a pro-kindness strategy. Kind people don’t bully and don’t look the other way when someone else is bullied.
We need to create a “culture of kindness,” encouraging a spirit of generosity and love where differences are accepted and celebrated, rather than targeted. In a culture of kindness, students stand up for and next to one another, all for one and one for all.
A dedicated effort to teach, advocate, and model kindness will work much better than efforts to punish meanness.
This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.
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