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Thursday, February 28, 2013

The real issue

I presented today at the School Safety Advocacy  Council Conference on bullying prevention.  I started my presentation by posing the question on why given the awareness of the problem, available resources, laws in every state, and the research that converges on what works in addressing it, it is still a persistent problem in schools today.

Think of it this way:  if there were a cure for cancer and available resources for providing the treatment necessary, would it still be a problem in our society.  Polio used to be a serious health problem and now it's not.  We wouldn't be talking about the disease we would be talking about why there were hospitals and doctors who didn't use the treatment.

There is no mystery about how to deal with bullying.  Social psychology has pointed towards how bystanders have the greatest influence in preventing and reducing it. Research has only shown us why they either speak up or don't.  These two pretty basic facts are ignored in most schools where it comes to practice.

  The real issue is not bullying; it is why are schools so resistant to change, resistant to taking and using this available knowledge.  This's question is almost too challenging to ask ourselves, so we skip over it or quickly change it to what program,curriculum, speaker, assembly to have that will solve the problem bullying.  This is why we keep having conferences,having new products, movies, TV shows all about bullying and yet we don't seem to get anywhere.  We won't get anywhere until we have the courage or as Jim Collins says in Good to Great face the brutal facts and look where the real problem lies- the resistance of our schools to use the knowledge that we already have that will have a positive impact.  The change is really incumbent on the school leaders to ask the hard questions and then keeping asking  with an open mind to truly go where they need to go even if it is unfamiliar territory that is questioning some of the basic assumptions of how we educate our students.  Just because a question might be hard to answer shouldn't mean we don't ask it.

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