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Combat bullies with consistency


Counselor education prof: A national voice on bullying policy.

An editorial in The Free Press, Mankato, MN, 10/26/2011

Minnesota State Mankato professor of counselor education Walter Roberts told teachers gathered for their annual statewide conference last week that they play a key role in helping to break up the cycle of violence when it comes to bullying.

That’s a big responsibility, but it doesn’t lie with teachers alone.

Roberts, a nationally recognized expert, stresses that putting a stop to bullying isn’t just about school policy or workshops that train school staff and students about what to do when faced with bullying. Instead, a culture of civility needs to be at a constant. So that when teachers, parents, and other kids notice bullying behavior, they flag it and say, “That’s not acceptable or appropriate. We don’t do that here.”

“Here” means in the classroom, in the hallway, on the playground, in the family room, in the backyard — wherever kids gather and interact. But because children spend so much time at school and some homes don’t offer the best role models, schools bear the brunt of the work when it comes to teaching kids to treat each other with respect.

Bullying policies are of major importance because they are part of the foundation of building the culture in schools. But they are just pieces of paper if they aren’t taught and reinforced at school every day.

The point is to create an environment where bullying doesn’t fit in. It’s obviously not OK to steal someone’s lunch in the school cafeteria. It’s also not OK to steal someone’s self-esteem by belittling them in that same cafeteria. The lunchroom monitor, the cooks, the custodian, the students all have to step up and reject the behavior before it grows.

When a culture of respect is the norm, it is so much easier for people to take action and know there is support for them to do so. Those same standards need to be applied to social media.

None of this is new — Roberts has delivered his bullying message for a decade at the teachers convention.

The culture of civility that should carry our young ones into adulthood starts with all of us.

For the complete Free Press editorial, see Tuesday's print edition, or click on the e-edition at

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