Bullying the Bully

Alfie Kohn in what I consider to be an obvious observation goes to some length here to make the singular point that punishing the bully is nothing more than bullying the bully and that to do so has the following results: “the child (1) becomes angry and frustrated, (2) learns that you get your way in life by using your power over those who are weaker, and (3) becomes more focused on self-interest and less likely to consider how his actions affect others.” The blog references a number of supporting studies but falls short of offering meaningful alternatives options unless they are somehow coded in the final paragraph.

This shift in perspective should prompt us to transform schools from “doing to” to “working with” places, to see kids’ troubling actions not as infractions to be punished (where someone must be made to suffer) but as problems to be solved — and opportunities for teaching. If we need a simple reason to support these shifts, maybe it’s sufficient that we want to make sure our actions never resemble those of a bully.

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