vs. Creating Climate of Peace: Prof. Garbarino at Teachers
Sarah N. Lynch
was the topic of the Virginia and Leornard Marx Lecture at
Teachers College recently.
lecture featured James Garbarino, the co-director of the Family
Life Development Center and a professor of human development
at Cornell University. Garbarino, who has won numerous awards
for his efforts to aid neglected and abused children, spoke
about the findings in his most recent book, Words Can Hurt
Forever: How to Protect Adolescents from Bullying, Harassment,
and Emotional Violence.
our country has, in the last ten years, begun to mobilize and
get aroused about the issues of bullying, harassment and emotional
violence,” Garbarino said. “The biggest single reason for that
is the rash of school shootings in communities around the country.”
school shootings have had, as a common theme, a reaction to
bullying, harassment and emotional violence.”
pointed out that while the problem of bullying has only recently
emerged as an issue of concern in schools, it has always been
a problem that Americans just failed to address.
of the things that strikes me as bizarre about this issue is
that it is not a new issue for us. If we probed our memory,
we could remember bullying and harassment from our own school
days. And yet this issue has leapt into the national consciousness.
I think what is happening is we’re finally starting to see
something that’s been before our eyes but has been largely
invisible for a long time.”
of the problems with bullying in America is that in many cases,
people either ignore it or even go so far as to view it as
being preferable, according to Garbarino. Garbarino said that
people overlooked the damaging impact bullying can have on
even seen as desirable by many people, as a right of passage.
In newspaper accounts of hazing in sports teams, a substantial
proportion of the community says it’s good for kids to be sodomized.
It’s good for kids to have urine poured on their faces because
it’s a ritual of passage. We did it when I was on the team
and they’ll do it now.”
noted that one of the important steps that schools need to
take in order to address the problem of bullying is not only
to work with bullies and victims, but also with the bystanders
conventional research on bullying states that a third of kids
are involved in bullying at any particular time, a third of
those as victims, a third as perpetrators and bullies and a
third as both,” Garbarino said.
kids are bullies in the morning and victims at night or victims
the day before and bullies next Thursday. When you actually
look at the psychological reality of the phenomenon, it turns
out that the bystanders—the people who are neither victims
nor bullies—are as much traumatized sometimes as the victims
are. When you look at it this way, virtually all children are
embedded in this phenomenon of bullying harassment and emotional
said that approaching the problem of bullying is not a matter “of
going to war,” against bullying, but a matter of creating a “social
context that breeds peace.”#
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