Bullying has, unfortunately, become a common term in today’s education world. All students get into the occasional squabble or call another student a name—but bullying is different.
Bullying is defined by negative actions, which are intentional, repeated, negative, and show an imbalance of power between the students. We’ve come a long way in the past few decades in acknowledging bullying and confronting it as a real problem in our schools. At some point, we decided this wasn’t just a normal part of school; it was something that was deeply hurting the development of our students, and we didn’t have to accept it.
As a teacher, it is my responsibility to teach my students compassion, empathy, and respect at a young age. These things become fundamental values to them as adults.
Standing Up for Pink
This is my fourth year teaching, and I have yet to have a serious issue with bullying in any of my classrooms, but that doesn’t mean I am not on the lookout for any behavior that could develop into bullying later. For example, one time there were a couple of boys in my kindergarten class who repeatedly made fun of any student for liking the color pink.
I took this very seriously, since if this behavior continued, it could turn into gender-based bullying in adolescence, which can be a huge problem. I created a PowerPoint called Stand Up for Pink. In it, I defined bullying and included images of cool-looking men (dads, football players, musicians, etc.) wearing pink. After I presented the PowerPoint, I handed out a pledge that everyone signed to agree to end making fun of the color pink.
Many of the students were happy I addressed this. During our class discussion, I had a kindergarten boy share that he loved pink and it was his favorite color. Many of the girls shared that when the boys made fun of pink because it was a “girl” color, they were in turn making fun of girls.
After this day, I never heard another student make fun of pink for the rest of the year. I even noted that some of the boys who initially made fun of the color were using it in their drawings.
(Next page: Combating bullying through reflection, inclusion)