As I mentioned in the last post, I gave my students homework to answer a specific question about bullying. They also had to find expert opinions online. The next day was the discussion of their findings.
That class was very lively.
In general, the students correctly predicted the very negative effects of bullying on victims (lifelong psychological scarring) and the fact that shy or quiet children were often targeted — those who couldn’t fight back or were afraid, especially among girls.
But they did not predict the high rate of later criminal behavior among bullies. Sometimes students got “leadership” and bullying mixed up. Nor did they predict the studies revealing that bullies of both sexes were quite often victimized, beaten, or denigrated in their own homes.
The interesting point for everyone was how much this problem preoccupied people in all countries. In some countries, students committed suicide when they did not do well enough in school to please their families or were shamed in front of fellow students. In other places, it was tied to dating and rivalries among girls.
One question to research was how to prevent or stop bullying. The students were very skeptical about the “conflict resolution peer groups” used in many high schools in the U.S. today. They were interested in the fact that such efforts existed here while in most countries the problem is ignored. However, they doubted that anything could be done.
Next year, I would like to invite a speaker from one of these groups to speak to the students. This was a very lively discussion and in addition to fluency practice, we learned a lot of new vocabulary and a lot about each other’s countries and culture.