Combating bullying is not simple, and has no easy fix. Bullying-related suicides, especially of LGBT-identified young people, have been prominent in the news cycles over the past couple of years.
I’m sure you know some of the oft-repeated statistics:
Suicide is the third leading cause of death among 15 to 24-year-olds
LGBT youth are up to four times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers.
Nine out of 10 LGBT students report experiencing harassment at school
Of course, bullying affects far more than just LGBT-identified young people. There are now increasing reports of Latino/a youth and Muslim youth being targeted. And sadly, many of us may have experienced bullying for a whole host of reasons, both as youngsters and as adults.
Our society's culture of bullying is a plague that has taken hold in our nation’s schools and finds its roots at the very seat of power—just look at some of the political campaign rhetoric.
So what can we do about bullying? Honestly, I think bullying is partly a phenomenon of over-crowded schools with over-burdened teachers and administrators, and a culture of competition rather than cooperation.
And it seems that one of the simplest ways to overcome the bully-mentality is the technique of cooperative learning. Why this is surprising - you assign diverse groups of kids to have to work together and collaborate to solve a common problem and they bond and come together - it really shouldn't be surprising. If we, as a society, cooperated a bit more and competed a bit less it would be a good thing.
Bullying is not a joke. And it's not OK. We, as a culture, need to make that clear.