Young people have been witnessing a horrifying display of lack of civility by some who seek the highest position in the U.S. Government. Too often, reporters refer to the displays of coarse and prejudiced behavior as “childish.” This reference is demeaning. The overwhelming majority of young people do not engage in similar behavior.
And they certainly do not admire those who do.
The displays of lack of civility by some running for public office provide a “teachable moment” to better understand underlying features of what is sometimes called “bullying.” Note that most often those who engage in such hurtful behavior are the strong and powerful–who are being hurtful to achieve social dominance. This is ethological-based behavior–animal-like aggression to achieve dominance (although many animals are more civil). The two general targets of such aggression are those who are different, who are cast as “deviant,” and rivals for power.
Educators are expressing increasing concerns about the harmful impact of such lack of civility on our young people. How can we help to empower young people can embrace civility and foster positive relations?