Question: Why doesn’t the punitive approach to bullying work?

11 Dec

Another look at the article “New Focus on Bullying Tries to find Solutions: Provincial laws aim to curb problems in wake of suicides,” by James Keller in the Winnipeg Free Press, December 8, 2012, raises more important questions.

In addition to the issues in my prior blog entry, the article further shows that some Canadian provinces take “a punitive approach,” and that Alberta has “billed its anti-bullying legislation the toughest in the country,” even while “current research suggests restorative approaches seek to teach children the impact of bullying work better than policies that focus on punishments such as suspensions and expulsions…”

Teachers know that when a child is suspended or expelled, they might well go home to bullying and undereducated parents, who will angrily bully and punish the bullying child further, or the child might go home to absent parents and violent video games, or they might re-inscribe bullying behavior with bullying friends.

The punitive approach temporarily takes the problem child, the bully, out of the school and puts the onus back on the parents—where ideally the responsibility for the child belongs—but teachers everywhere know that is where a problem lies. The parents may well be ill-equipped to deal with their bullying child because they are ill-equipped to deal with compassionate, knowledgeable, and involved parenting. Even well-meaning parents are prone to denial when it comes to negative behavior on the part of children, because they believe the behavior reflects badly on them—which it might or might not. Everyone has been involved in the bullying scenario at one time or another, but it takes courage for a parent to admit that his or her child needs extra help in the empathy department.

I invite opinions on the question: Why doesn’t the punitive approach to bullying work?

We are at a critical juncture in which new consciousness strategies need to be found! I hope that some teachers will try my Beech Nut of Big Water Beach Novel Study and Anti-Bullying Guide which helps children to internalize new understandings of the bullying scenario!


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