Bullying - Could early intervention be the key to closing the door on this behaviour?
Nov 18, 2021
Sadly bullying seems to be part of our human journey. It's nothing new. We or someone close to us is likely to have experienced bullying. However, with the growth of social media and apps like Tik Tok being used to share unkindness, we seem to have created a society where bullying is more prevalent than ever before. For those who are on the receiving end of this behaviour, it can have devastating and life altering effects.
So what are we doing about it? I do believe that we need to be active in challenging this behaviour, but I don’t believe that it’s about discipline and banning social media. I believe it’s deeper than this, MUCH deeper. It involves redefining and creating healthy beliefs about self and others. It’s about building deep internal values and an understanding of the value of our own lives and the lives of others. It’s not a quick fix, but I do believe it is fixable!
My work began looking at the question ‘Why do some children bully? The results led to a much greater journey of research around mental/ emotional health, relational well-being and the formations of a healthy community culture. A culture where we treat each other with the dignity and respect we all deserve.
Because our problems are complex and difficult they are not a quick fix. It means looking at trauma, pain, grief and sorrow. But it also means looking at what creates joy, wonder and connection. I believe it comes back to education and the development of relationally safe communities.
Schools are on the front line of our communities and can be a force for great good in our society and culture. I had a creative response to the information I was researching which ended up with ‘The Culture of the Heart’, a primary school resource that supports healthy relational culture, by building strong values and healthy beliefs. It’s a set of creative lesson plans and activities that support the foundations of healthy beliefs around self, others, the value of friendship, family and community.
In schools the subjects that deal with the creation of healthy values have been called the ‘soft subjects’, the things children should ‘pick up’ intuitively because they have seen them modelled by caring parents. These are the deep character values of kindness, self-sacrifice, faithfulness, patience, honesty, love etc. However many children have never experienced stable environments in which these values thrive. In my experience, character - real character that makes a difference, that goes against the flow, that chooses love against the odds is hard, it takes guts and nerves and character. It is far from ‘soft’.
We have choices to make about how we are going to invest in our children. I believe it is time that we invest in these strong subjects, the subjects that change lives, that deal with trauma and create healthy mindsets about self and others.
I believe culture can change and we can address behaviour. It’s early days, but please do take a look at ‘The Culture of the Heart’
and tell others about it.