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Beyond basics, how can bullying be stopped?

May 17, 2012
Gary Andersen, Lee Smith , Fairmont Sentinel

Defined by Wikipedia, bullying is aggressive behavior manifested by the use of force or coercion to affect others, particularly when the behavior is habitual and involves an imbalance of power (social and/or physical power). Bullying can be emotional, verbal or physical. Wikipedia does not say bullying is something just children must deal with in the school yard. In fact, bullies exist throughout life, though their success as adults is perhaps more limited by other adults who know what bullies are trying to perpetrate. We agree that children are the most vulnerable to bullying, given school settings that have long served the bullying mindset.

What can be done about bullying, which is seen as a growing problem and worse than in previous generations? Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton has assembled a task force to address the issue. It met in Mankato this week and was greeted by a huge audience, which had plenty to say on the topic. These citizens believe that bullying must be addressed communitywide. They also say social media (Facebook) is a real problem, and a new problem since it did not exist a decade ago.

Fundamentally, stopping bullying requires parents to instill the proper values in their children. Namely, respect for the rights of others. Respect lessons also can be taught in school. But taking on bullying also requires punishments for bullies at school and elsewhere, since not every parent, if they try at all, is going to succeed at home. Beyond instilling respect for others and letting bullies know their behavior is unacceptable, we don't know what other solutions exist. Bullying may be disheartening to see, but it's not complicated.



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