If your house was on fire, would you run around throwing water on your kids as they came running out of the house, or would you call the fire department and have them put the dnged fire out? I think anti-bullying programs that focus only on how to deal with bullies are missing a very important element and are assuming that bullies are beyond help.
I used to have an 8th grade student who I had heard was a big bully. The September day that I met him, I asked the young man (who was a big farm boy) to please go help a little sixth grade girl open her locker. "Who, me?" he asked (probably wondering if maybe I hadn't heard about him yet). "Yes," I replied, with a confident smile. He went and helped her; she was very sweet about thanking him, and it was clear he felt like a hero. I never observed a single bullying behavior from that boy the entire year. I had seen the good in him (or at least assumed it was there) and reinforced it as often as I could. I also had a zero-tolerance policy for disrespect to peers in my classroom (no laughing at mistakes, only supportive comments, etc.) and with rare exceptions, it worked for all of my students.
Who's reaching out to the bullies?
Who's asking them why they are so angry or who might be bullying them, for example?
Who's reaching past their ugly expressions to get to the kids inside and find out how to meet the need that bullying does?
Why are we so reactive when it comes to bullying, and more about "fire" fighting than fire prevention?
Don't get me wrong--I do think that kids need to be empowered when it comes to responding to bullies. There are some great programs out there. I just feel like there's a bigger picture that often gets missed.