Welcome to our discussion for the month of July on school safety and
effective strategies to end gender-based violence. One reason we thought
July would be a good month for this discussion is that one of the themes of
the National Coalition for Sex Equity in Education (NCSEE)'s annual
conference (July 16-18 in Denver, CO) is "Creating a Respectful and Safe
Learning and Working Environment." We hope conference participants will
write in during or after the conference to share what they have learned.
[For more information about the conference, visit the NCSEE web site at
www.ncsee.org. or call the Interwest Equity Assistance Center at
Since gender-based violence can take many forms, we thought it might help
facilitate discussion if we focus on one area each week. To begin, this
week we will discuss teasing and bullying. This will be followed by:
July 10 - 14: sexual harassment in K-12
July 17 ? 21: dating violence
July 24 to 29: harassment and violence in higher education
We will use the week beginning July 31 for discussion of any other issues
you may want to address on this topic and to wrap-up.
In addition to sharing information about research and examples of each of
the above topics, we encourage you to post information about effective
strategies, programs, and resources to reduce violence in schools. We
propose to structure the discussion around the following types of
strategies and resources:
* TRAINING, including training for teachers, educators, women's groups,
community-based organizations, and the media.
* EDUCATION including public information and media campaigns, legal
projects and programs for schools.
* LEGAL REFORM including efforts to get effective legislation adopted
and/or strengthen existing legislation.
* RESEARCH, including effective tools and methods, resources, and powerful
ways to use findings to promote policy and legal change for safe schools.
* PROGRAMS, including successful programs that have been effective in
reducing violence in schools.
We encourage you to share examples from your work or life in which action
using any of the above strategies led to a positive change in your life or
the lives of other women and girls.
To begin the teasing and bullying discussion, we wanted to share some
background information compiled by the WEEA Equity Resource Center is
included with this message.
We look forward to a frank and enriching exchange of information.
Susan J. Smith
BACKGROUND ON TEASING AND BULLYING
(Compiled by the WEEA Equity Resource Center)
Bullying?"teasing, taunting, threatening, hitting, and stealing that are
initiated by one or more students against a victim"?and social exclusion
most often take place in school. Bullying makes life miserable for
students and interferes with a student's ability to feel safe and therefore
to learn. Studies have found that teasing and bullying are a way of life
for too many elementary school students. Unfortunately, many adults do not
take teasing and bullying seriously, but rather "tend to think that
bullying is a given of childhood, at most a passing stage, one inhabited
largely by boys who will simply, inevitably, be boys." As educators and
social service providers begin to better understand the cycle of
socialization that supports bullying and other forms of gendered violence,
more research is needed. Dr. Nan Stein of the Wellesley Center for
Research on Women, notes that:
Bullying remains an under-studied phenomenon in the United States in
contrast with Britain, Norway and Sweden. When bullying has been
acknowledged studies have focused on the pathology of the bully
instead of the whole school culture; or bullying has been regarded as
an unfortunate stage that some children go through on their way to
adolescence and adulthood. Attention has too rarely been given to the
witnesses, bystanders, and observers of bullying; those children who
are neither targeters nor perpetrators, yet who are also affected by
the phenomena of bullying in school.
Bullying can be directed at both girls and boys, at anyone who is seen as
different because of race, ethnicity, class, or physical appearance.
Studies have found that boys most typically engage in direct bullying but
girls who bully are more likely to do things such as spread rumors or
enforce social isolation. About 15 percent of students are either bullied
or bully others. Direct bullying seems to increase through elementary
school, to peak in middle school, and to decline during high school. Boys
engage in bullying behavior and are victims more frequently than girls.
Boys more frequently are victims of physical bullying while girls are
victims of exclusion. Verbal abuse, however, remains constant. Studies
also reveal that, counter to our assumptions, students who bully do not
"feel bad about themselves" and so victimize others.
Recent research by Educational Equity Concepts and the Wellesley College
Center for Research on Women "found that teasing and bullying are a part of
the fabric of daily life for students in kindergarten through grade three."
This research also found that:
· Boys initiate most of the teasing and bullying incidents; both
girls and boys are the recipients.
· Boys are more likely to respond physically, while girls are
more likely to respond verbally to incidents initiated against
· Teachers and other adults frequently ignore teasing and
bullying; their predominant response is to remain uninvolved.
· Students feel that adults do not pay attention or support them
in ways that resolve the teasing and bullying.
· Students want adults to become more involved.
Bullying, like its better-known "older cousin," sexual harassment,
"deprives children of their rightful entitlement to go to school in a safe,
just, and caring environment; bullying interferes with children's learning
concentration, and desire to go to school" and, as such, will become a
critical issue for research and development over the next few years.
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