The following blog was contributed by Jodee Blanco, New York Times best-selling author and consultant.
This time of year is tough on lonely students, the ones who struggle to fit in, who may not even be teased or bullied per se, but who are simply always left out. Their classmates who exclude them are often unaware that this omission of kindness can be a sharper form of cruelty than actual overt bullying. Why? If I’m a bully and I shove you into a locker or call you a name, you can tell yourself, there’s something wrong with that person, he or she is a bully. But if all I ever do is ignore you, never include you in anything, give you a look as you pass me in the hall that says more than my words ever could, if I treat you as if you’re invisible, it won’t make you say to yourself there’s something wrong with that bully, it may make you ask, “what’s wrong with me?” When a student starts wondering the latter, that’s when bullying enters the long-term damaging range.
Exclusionary bullying remains one of the most insidious kinds of peer abuse in our schools. I know because I was a victim of it from fifth grade through high school and as an anti-bullying author, speaker and expert who works inside schools now, holding kids in my arms every day as they pour out their hearts of the pain they’re enduring, the same pain that I once did, I know that exclusion is no less prevalent now than it’s always been.
Here’s the irony: often, the classmates who exclude others, if asked, will tell you they don’t dislike those whom they’re not inviting to their parties or asking to join them at lunch. They’ll tell you that those kids simply aren’t on their social radar or aren’t part of their friend group. Yes, some of the students who exclude are doing so intentionally, but many of them aren’t. They’re just following the pack.
How do you identify which students are excluding out of animus and which ones are just not cognizant of their insensitivity? And how do you help both types of student become kinder, more compassionate, deeper and most rooted in core values of acceptance, tolerance, love and respect? How do you motivate a child to want to bring joy to another child, one who perhaps isn’t part of their immediate clique? And how do you implement discipline, exert consequences for something a student hasn’t done? How do you punish a child for not letting someone sit with him at lunch or for not inviting someone to their sleepover? When we add in the element of social media, smart phones, and digital apps, what are our options for diminishing the “mean” in our schools? Is there hope? Yes! That hope lives within all our hearts and it’s up to us as educators in the Catholic school system to have the tools to successfully harness that hope and put it into action.
I hope you’ll join me for my webinar on exclusionary bullying. I’ll provide simple, step-by-step guidelines for how to identify students who are excluding others and why, and how to help both them and the students they exclude. Every child has the capacity to love and be loved by their peers. In this webinar, I’ll offer strategies and tools for guiding students to a kinder, gentler, place of tolerance and acceptance, one that is consistent with our core Catholic values. I hope you’ll join me!
About the Author
Jodee Blanco is the author of four books on bullying, including the New York Times bestselling memoir, Please Stop Laughing at Me. She is also the author of the NCEA’s Anti-Bullying Survival Series. Jodee travels to schools, sharing her story to save lives, and has spoken to thousands of people worldwide. For more information on Jodee and her in-school anti-bullying program, please visit jodeeblanco.com/catholic-schools/.
Jodee’s Other Upcoming Webinars on Bullying:
- Defining Bullying: What It Is and What It Isn’t
- Bully, Class Clown or Cry for Help? Decoding Classroom Disruptions and Responding with Compassion
Jodee’s Publications with NCEA: