Tuesday, May 1, 2007

School Violence and Bullying

On Monday, April 16, I borrowed a book from a colleague...19 Minutes by Jodi Picoult. I also borrowed an audiobook from another--London Calling by Edward Bloor. That evening I came home and turned on TV to the news of the Virginia Tech shooting. It seemed incredibly ironic to me that I had just been loaned a book about a school shooting, and the recent events were certainly on my mind as I read. Further, listening to London Calling concurrently with reading Picoult's book made me think a great deal about bullies and their victims. Why did the boy in London Calling move out of his depression while Peter in 19 Minutes took tragic action? How can parents help students who are bullied? Actually, if nurturing, caring parents could forestall such a desperate act, then Peter would have had a better chance than Martin. What should teachers and librarians do in response to the school bullying we all have seen? And...one more question, is bullying worse than it was in years past? Frankly, I can remember incidents from my growing-up years that were quite cruel and doubtless very hurtful to the kids who were targeted. When I was in school I was not bullied, but saw it occur as a bystander and as one of those kids who are afraid to speak up for fear of becoming a victim. As a young teacher and later as a school librarian, I did not know how to respond other than make sure the behavior was not allowed in my presence. What can be done to promote healthier climates in schools?

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