Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Anti-Bullying panel scheduled for encore performance

University of Toledo author joins OU-C faculty members
for engaging dialogue to discuss topic from various perspectives

In an encore performance, experts will share their insights about the problem of bullying from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 29 in the Bennett Hall Auditorium at Ohio University-Chillicothe. The event includes a panel discussion and is designed to engage the audience and allow for questions and remarks from those in attendance.

The event is free and open to the public. The discussion is co-sponsored by the OU-C Stray Cats student organization and is part of the Quinn Library salon discussion series.

This event continues May's discussion into bullying
Panelists include University of Toledo faculty member Lisa Kovach and OU-C education faculty member Jamie Harmount and nursing faculty member Ronald Vance. This same panel discussed the issue of bullying in May.

Kovach is the author of School Shootings and Suicides: Why We Must Stop the Bullies and specializes in bullying in schools. She shared her insights about her interest in bullying and what she has learned from her research.

WHAT DREW YOUR INTEREST TO THE TOPIC OF BULLYING?

While watching Columbine unfold on CNN, I kept wondering what drove students to want to kill their classmates. I then immediately collected all of the information I could on Eric Harris, Dylan Klebold, Luke Woodham, Michael Carneal and all of the nation's school shooters and found that one of the factors they shared in common was that they had all been bullied throughout their childhood - by their classmates. I then spoke to a woman, Brenda High, whose son, Jared, had committed suicide upon being bullied incessantly by one of his classmates. She told me the names of so many others who had died this way. So, I decided to shift gears and stop doing research on infant attentional processes and begin looking at how we can prevent bullying and its related deaths.

WHAT ARE THE LONG-TERM EFFECTS OF BULLYING ON BOTH VICTIMS AND THE BULLIES THEMSELVES?

Lisa Kovach
Some victims internalize their pain and suffer somatic issues (e.g., headaches, intestinal problems), anxiety, depression and at its worst, suicide. Others externalize their pain and becoming increasingly hostile and aggressive. The worst end result with those who externalize is that they perpetrate a school shooting.

WHY DO BULLIES ACT THE WAY THEY DO?

Typically, bullies come from one of two types of households: authoritarian or permissive. Authoritarian parents rule with an iron fist. They follow the “do as I say because I said so” model of parenting. Their children fear them and inevitably feel powerless and unable to explain any mistakes they make. These children, as a result, want to feel powerful at school and exert power over other children through bullying behaviors. They come to think that it will get them what they want because, in fact, it gets their parent(s) what they want.

The other parenting style related to bullying is permissive. It is typical to see relationally aggressive females coming from permissive homes. Their parents never tell them they do anything wrong and, in fact, excuse all of their transgressions. As a result, these kids do not develop empathy and think nothing of hurting someone else.

ANYTHING ELSE YOU WOULD LIKE TO ADD?

I would like to add that we need to fix the broken system in many of our schools in which we often reward students for academics and athletics only. There are so many children with other talents that go unrecognized. To complicate matters, if some of those we reward are also the bullies, we see victims becoming increasingly frustrated to the point where they feel there is no end in sight. These increasingly frustrated children are those who end their lives or others’ tragically. We need to address bullying at every grade level. Prevention through the teaching of acceptance of all others is the key.

Harmount, a dedicated educator, also shared her thoughts on in her interest in this topic.

“Bullying is hatred and, most importantly, it’s senseless and preventable,” Harmount said in discussing the need to break the cycle of bullying. “We have to look at the children who are being bullied, but we must also look at the bullies and see what we can do for both sides. I had several people come up to me after the first panel discussion on bullying and tell me that our discussions helped them in dealing with situations they were facing. My hope is that our discussion will once again help to educate others about bullying.”

OU-C Head Librarian Allan Pollchik, who is coordinating the discussion, said, “Bullying is not restricted to the schools, but if we can identify possible bullies and victims when they are young, they do not carry that behavior into their adult lives. Victimhood and bullying are both harmful styles of life. Victims continue to be passive and accepting of situations that are destructive to them. The problem with bullies and victims is they are sometimes hard to identify. This is especially true with children. We might see a child avoiding school by ‘getting sick,’ but the real problem is they are a victim. Our panelists present helpful hints on identifying these children.”

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