— Joyce Turner
A reading of this recent New York Times op-ed piece could be useful as we continue our conversation about addressing the concerns about bullying harassment, and intimidation.
Authors Danah Boyd and Alice Marwick conclude that adults don’t always speak the same language as teenagers when it comes to talking about bullying. They point out that teens often will not identify as bullies or as victims of bullies as it carries too high a social and psychological cost. Teens refer to their interactions as “drama,” therefore minimizing the impact.
Nearly 60 people — youth and adults — came on September 12, 2011, at the Princeton Public Library to see and discuss “Light in the Darkness,” a Not in Our Town/PBS documentary about hate crime. Their comments were heartbreaking and thoughtful, as recorded below. Everyone is invited to the follow-up meeting on Monday, October 3, at 7:30 p.m. in the PPL meeting room on the second floor.
On September 12 everyone was given index cards and pencils and invited to record, anonymously, their ‘bullying’ experiences. They were asked to describe the bullying acts, their own responses and the responses of others. The cards were collected at the end of the meeting. About half of those attending (27) responded.
All but three of the comments were about experiences recollected from school days, including some
from young people attending the event. Only three described bullying/harassment/discrimination
experienced as an adult. The middle school years were most frequently cited as the time of the worst
Sadly, a majority of the responders reported that they did not speak out; neither did anyone come to
their aid. Among those responding who had a positive outcome, the successful interventions came
from teachers (3), classmates (2), camp counselors (1), and family members (2).
The attenders were also asked for suggestions of ways to mitigate bullying in our community.
Some of the very good suggestions include:
• Victims should reach out for help,
• Bystanders should run for help,
• Let the bullies know that we saw it and it’s not OK,
• On the first day of school, principals should make it clear in all school meetings what bullying
is and why it will not be tolerated,
• Family and friends can help by speaking directly to the perpetrators and their families,
• Parents can help by talking with their kids about bullying and helping them really
understand “the bully,”
• We should look into the deeper psychological reasons for bullying and being bullied,
What we need to combat bullying:
• Greater ease of access to counseling,
• Provide emotional support to victim,
• Set strict standards and anti-bullying rules and laws,
• Hold “Bullying Awareness” programs,
• Realize the community can set strict bullying consequences and confront the problem,
• Make the laws more widespread known,
• Have empowerment programs for immigrant groups,
• Offer support groups,
• Ensure that people know that there are resources and people to go to,
• Churches should preach about these things and set a proper example.
Said one participant: The community can set strict bullying consequences and can confront the problem! Please join us on Monday, October 3, at 7:30 p.m.
Last night’s “Light in the Darkness” showing at the Princeton Public Library was wonderfully meaningful. More than sixty people — a very diverse group by age, race, and nationality — came, saw the NIOT PBS documentary, and contributed their verbal and written testimony.
We’ll post the feedback in this space soon and look forward to the NIOT discussion, “Continuing Conversations,” on Monday, October 3, at 7:30 p.m. in the PPL’s conference room. We hope we’ll see you there!
Today we received word about another exciting opportunity to explore diversity. An interactive panel discussion will take place in Plainsboro on Wednesday, September 20, 5:45 – 8:30 p.m., as presented by the American Conference on Diversity.
Not in Our Town Princeton focuses its work in Princeton Township and Princeton Borough, but we know that our programs, co-sponsored with the Princeton Public Library, appeal to those who live in the Greater Princeton area. Similarly, Princeton residents are encouraged to attend this event.
It’s free, but the sponsors — which include the NAMI New Jersey (the National Alliance on Mental Illness) — ask for pre-registration. Details above.
Adults and older teens are urged to attend.