By Grace Dastous, SED 2017
I am part of the Elementary Educators Club here at BU. This club is a great opportunity for any student here at BU to volunteer at the Trotter Elementary School, which is an urban school in Dorchester. We raise money for events like Dads Read, which brings together fathers and families after school to read and enjoy books with their children. These parents, who may not have the opportunity to buy books or games for their children, benefit from our club because we provide an outlet for them to engage with their children, but we also raise money so that they are able to keep the books that they read.
Last semester, we had a guest speaker, Professor Jennifer Green, come to talk to us about bullying and how traumatic events affect children. It was a really valuable experience because there was only a small group of us, so instead of a huge lecture, we got to have a deep discussion about these topics and we were able to really divulge into the aspects that we wanted to know about. We got so engaged in the topic about bullying that we did not even have time to move on to children who have emotional and behavioral disorders.
Professor Green was very knowledgeable about bullying, a subject that is extremely important for the well being of our students, but one that is not completely talked about in a lot of our education classes. What really interested me was when Professor Green talked about using certain language when dealing with a situation that involves bullying. She said that children are more likely to report an instance of bullying if we used the word bullying. However, if we asked the student about the aggression using the definition of bullying instead of the word, they were less likely to report a false instance.
You see, the word “bully” or “bullying” has been used so frequently in passing, that when it comes to defining an instance of bullying, educators have to be really careful to make sure that it is a repeated offense, an act that is set out to hurt another peer, and an instance of power imbalance between the two students. Without this definition, it is not considered to be bullying, and may need to be dealt with in a different way. Teachers need to understand what bullying actually is so that we are able to prevent it and correct it in our classroom.
Professor Green also answered a lot of questions about how to deal with bullying. One frustrating point was that many students said that their teachers did nothing when they saw the child being bullied. As educators, we need to make sure our students know that we are there for them, and we need to act right away when this instance occurs. This is something that I had hoped I would have done as a teacher, however, hearing this highly educated woman state that it is a necessity really prepared me mentally to immediately deal with the situation and make it clear that nothing of this nature is okay.
All in all, bullying is a issue that need to be addressed: as a student, as a peer, and as a teacher. If teachers stand by and watch as students get bullied and do not act, not only will there be legal consequences, but emotional ones as well. Students deserve a role model that shows them not to be a bystander, not matter how tough or awkward it is. Students who are being bullied need to know that they are worth standing up for. Aggressors need to know that there is a limit; they need to learn how to care for others’ feeling and they need to learn how to deal with their frustration in a different way. As educators, is it is our job to speak up for all of our students and say something.
Grace Dastous is a junior in the School of Education, majoring in Elementary and Special Education