Monthly Archives: March 2016

Learning From Politics: 5 Actions to Help Students Embrace Civility

(Thanks to Education Week and Nancy Willard.  — Mike Tully, Editor)

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?

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Don’t Grade Schools on Grit

Philadelphia — THE Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once observed, “Intelligence plus character — that is the goal of true education.”

Evidence has now accumulated in support of King’s proposition: Attributes like self-control predict children’s success in school and beyond. Over the past few years, I’ve seen a groundswell of popular interest in character development.

As a social scientist researching the importance of character, I was heartened. It seemed that the narrow focus on standardized achievement test scores from the years I taught in public schools was giving way to a broader, more enlightened perspective.

These days, however, I worry I’ve contributed, inadvertently, to an idea I vigorously oppose:

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Mounties have moved on from harassment and bullying says RCMP boss

OTTAWA — Canada’s top Mountie told the federal government last spring the RCMP had “moved beyond” internal issues of harassment and bullying through “concrete actions” that had fostered a more respectful workplace, newly disclosed records show.

RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson advised Steven Blaney, public safety minister at the time, that the problems had taken up a great deal of time and energy since he took the helm of the national police force three-and-a-half years earlier.

“I am pleased to report that we have worked hard to understand the challenges, implement measures to improve our culture, and establish a system in which destructive or discriminatory behaviours are not tolerated,” says Paulson’s May letter, released under the Access to Information Act.

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Exclusive: Data Shows 3 of the 5 Biggest School Districts Hire More Security Officers Than Counselors

School security officers outnumber counselors in four out of the 10 largest public school districts in the country —  including three of the top five — according to data obtained by The 74.

New York City, Chicago, Miami-Dade County, and Houston schools all employ more security staff than counselors. New York City, Chicago and Miami-Dade are all among the nation’s five biggest school districts.

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Cruz Control of U.S. Muslims

(Thanks to Warren Blumenfeld.  — Mike Tully, Editor)

In his attempt to out-Trump Donald Trump’s demands “for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” Texas Senator and presidential candidate Ted Cruz has upped the ante by calling on national and local law enforcement agencies and other security forces “to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized.”

Though Cruz did not fully address Constitutional issues nor ease concerns regarding the inflammatory and clearly discriminatory nature of this racial profiling, he defended his scheme saying that this strategy has proven effective in the past in reducing urban gang violence “to get the gang members off the street.”

But this anti-Muslim rhetoric is nothing new for Ted Cruz who has also asserted an alleged conspiracy in which some Muslims are attempting to impose Sharia law in our country. He proclaimed that “Sharia law is an enormous problem” in the U.S.

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Nunavut addresses workplace bullying with new management seminar (CA)

Several months after the issue made waves in the Nunavut legislature and media, the territorial government says it is addressing workplace bullying by delivering workshops to all of its managers.

In the fall sitting of the Nunavut Legislative Assembly, Iqaluit-Niaqunnguu MLA Pat Angnakak called for a review of how harassment complaints are handled, saying she has heard about serious issues from several constituents.

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Protest erupts at St. Paul school board meeting over teacher’s online posts

At a St. Paul school board meeting Tuesday night, protesters denounced a Como Park High School teacher who made controversial posts on Facebook and his personal blog, shouting down someone who tried to speak out in support of the teacher.

Some parents say the postings by Theodore Olson are indicative of hostility toward students of color.

On his Facebook page, Olson expressed frustration about a lack of classroom discipline saying, “Since we now have no backup, no functional location to send kids who won’t quit gaming, setting up fights, selling drugs, whoring trains, or cyber bullying, we’re screwed.” In another post, he complained about campaigns “to deconstruct adult authority in my building by enabling student misconduct,” and asking how teachers should be blamed for “the school-to-prison pipeline.”

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Fighting the cyberbullies: do we need to regulate our children’s digital lives?

When it comes to digital exposure, how much is too much for today’s teenagers? Fears about sexting, cyberbullying and access to inappropriate violent or pornographic images are being linked with other evidence pointing to communication disorders, spatial awareness issues, sleep disorders, stress and anxiety, eyesight damage and posture issues.

The blue light from screens has been linked to depression as well as insomnia. Rates of mental health issues experienced by schoolchildren are rocketing, with fingers being pointed at the pressures of social media or hours spent while online gaming.

Last week Joan Bakewell was found “loosely speculating” that narcissism was so rife among social media-obsessed young people that it could be linked to the rise in eating disorders, something for which she quickly apologised after there was a backlash of criticism from affected young people and their families.

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My Visit to the Columbine Memorial

(Thanks to Sameer Hinduja)

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to visit the Columbine Memorial in Littleton, Colorado. Even though my family loves Colorado as a vacation destination, I had never stopped by to see what was done to honor those who lost their lives in that horrific tragedy. My friend Dan – who lives in Littleton – said that he doesn’t understand why it isn’t more of a big deal. He discovered it while out for a run one day, but thinks that it should be in every “Top Things to See in Colorado” tourist list. I agree. It is a big deal. And it matters so much. Particularly to me.

I’ve spent my professional life studying bullying and youth violence, and the increased focus on the topic has – in part – stemmed from the rash of school shootings our country has experienced in the last two decades. Justin and I have pointed out that bullying victimization has also been correlated with bullying offending and other forms of violent behaviors as youth sometimes choose antisocial ways to cope or lash out in response to their experiences.1-5 And school shootings – though rare – have been connected in part to bullying, which once again underscores the magnitude of the problem.6 Based on a detailed case study review of 37 targeted school attacks in the last quarter of the 20th century, more than 2/3rds of 41 attackers felt persecuted, bullied, threatened, attacked, or injured by others prior to the incident. Furthermore, some had experienced long-standing, severe bullying and harassment that clearly affected their emotional and psychological state.7

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Be a Leader! Program Now Available

NANCY WILLARD
NANCY WILLARD

(Editor’s Note:  Nancy Willard is a good friend of mine who has been working tirelessly on this program.  — Mike Tully)

Helping Young People Embrace Civility in a Society Gone Nasty!   New free program to help young people embrace civility and foster  positive relations is now available for schools and youth organizations.

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–further they  do not admire those who do.

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, especially in the current climate?

Embrace Civility in the Digital Age is releasing Be a Leader!, a  powerfully positive, thoroughly research-based instructional program for students. Be a Leader! has activities for both elementary students and secondary students. Program materials include an instructional guide, slideshows for both secondary and elementary grade levels–the slides of which can be used for posters–and a student activity guide for the secondary level. Educators and others can also review the research basis for the program.

Be a Leader! promotes the actual norms of young people.  Research by Embrace Civility in the Digital Age documents that young people do not admire those who are hurtful or those who support those being hurtful. Young people admire those who are consistently kind and respectful and who step in to help if they witness someone being treated badly or left out. Further, young people admire those who, if treated badly, respond in a powerful, positive manner, as well as those who, if hurtful, stop themselves and make amends.

Be a Leader! focuses on five action areas for young people to embrace civility and foster positive relations.

* Reach Out. Young people can assist those who have been treated badly or left out by reaching out to be kind ,including them.
* Say Stop. Working with a group of individuals who are concerned about such hurtful behavior to communicate the importance of civility can be very effective. Further, sometimes the friends or allies of those being hurtful can privately advise them of the need to stop.
* Report Concerns. Young people play an important role in recognizing when a situation present serious concerns for the well-being of others and should be reported to those in higher positions of  authority.
* Stop, Own it, and Fix It. Young people who have been hurtful can learn to stop themselves, acknowledge personal responsibility, and take steps to remedy the harm that was caused.
* Be Positively Powerful. Those who are treated badly can become more powerful and respond in positive ways. They can also gain greater personal power and resiliency.

Educators and others who work with young people can use the current nasty “teachable moments” as an opportunity to help young people decide to forge a more kind and respectful path for themselves and their
communities.

About Embrace Civility in the Digital Age

Embrace Civility in the Digital Age promotes a 21st Century approach to address hurtful youth behavior. This approach promotes the positive values held by young people, empowers young people with effective skills and resiliency, and encourages young people to be helpful allies who positively intervene when they witness peers being hurt or at risk. This approach also focuses on increasing the effectiveness of adults in supporting young people and effectively responding to the hurtful incidents that occur.

Website: http://embracecivility.org

Nancy Willard, M.S., J.D., Director of Embrace Civility in the Digital Age, brings a background of working with emotionally challenged students, law, and digital technologies to the challenge of fostering positive relations in the digital age. Nancy is the author of the first book ever published on cyberbullying, Cyberbullying and Cyberthreats (2007). She is the author of several other books and frequently contributed articles to publications for educators, such as District Administration.

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