The Cherokee tell story of an old man talking to his grandson. “There are two wolves fighting inside each of us” he says. “One wolf brings anger, aggression, and wounded pride. The other wolf leads us towards compassion and love.” “Which wins?” asks the boy. “The one that we feed” is grandfather’s reply.
Relational bullying or “relational aggression” was included in the definition of bullying in the 1990’s, mainly through the research and persistence of Professor Nicki Crick. Relational bullying is when a student uses relational influence to turn other students against someone and ultimately to isolate them. In the early grades this behavior takes the form of telling another student directly that they cannot play or join in. In the middle grades relational bullying takes a more indirect form of manipulating students against other students behind their backs.
The students currently passing through our schools have been referred to as the Me Generation or the iGeneration for their startling preoccupation with … themselves. However, a stream of recent research studies suggest that humans are not born selfish and that we are wired to co-operate. Allison Gopnik, UC Berkeley child psychologist and author of The Philosophical Baby reports that “Babies not only learn more, but imagine more, care more, and experience more than we would ever have thought possible”.
Most schools experience a problem class at some point in time. For obvious reasons this is not something that they broadcast to outsiders. Often it’s a fifth or sixth grade class that has seemingly forgotten what kindness is, though problematic dynamics show up as early as second grade. Once a class becomes “the problem class”, they often get stuck in that role. Educators vacillate between confronting the ringleaders and forcing change (highly unsuccessful) and giving up.
Gossip is an age-old way of sharing news about the happenings of a community and those within it. Evolutionary psychology suggests that gossip promotes bonding and affiliation within a group. Generally, though, gossip belongs to the dark side of communication, used to enhance the gossiper’s status at the cost of another’s reputation.
School bullying has the potential to leave its targets with a wide range variety of long-term effects. Research from Carlisle and Rofes found that the targets of bullying almost universally link their childhood bullying to the difficulties they now have in relationships, particularly in making friendships, belonging to groups, dealing with authority figures, facing conflict, and in relating to their significant others.
At Nobully.org we find that children are exposed to bullying as soon as a child enters kindergarten or first grade. In fact, more students feel victimized and excluded in the early grades than at any other point of their school career. (Over 22% according to Kochenderfer & Ladd’s study of kindergarteners in the Midwest.) Even more shockingly, the research shows that many of these students remain the “student that no-one wants to play with” as they travel up the school.