Ending Bullying Means Teaching Social Justice

Schools are now mandated to implement educational programs and practices that help put an end to bullying. There are many ways to make progress toward this goal. Definitions, methods, and philosophies about bullying are described in books, videos, workshops, curriculums, and group activities. We have become experts at identifying and explaining what bullying is. We have not yet become experts at extinguishing this unwanted social phenomenon.

Bullying is found in school, at home, in the workplace, and in other social settings. In considering the available research on the subject, it is best summarized as a matter of social justice. Bullying refers to the imbalance of power that can exist in relationships, and the abuse of that power. The abuse of power in relationships can come from individuals or groups, and can target individuals or groups. It springs from a mentality of coercion and dominance rather than cooperation and equality.

Our most important teachings in the hope of extinguishing bullying behaviors are those not only of tolerance, but of true acceptance. They are teachings of actively including and valuing others, treating others fairly, and working against words and actions that intentionally exclude or subjugate others. When we as adults model these behaviors we show that social justice is at the core of our moral beliefs. When we recognize and reinforce these behaviors in our classrooms and in our homes we teach children the fundamental value of fair and equitable treatment for everyone.

Thank you for your attention to this important concern in our schools.