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What is this word bullying we hear so often?

Well, according to
stopbullying.gov, bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged
children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is
repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Bullying includes actions
such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally,
and excluding someone from a group on purpose. But, why should we care? Kids
will be kids, right? As educators we cannot think this way. It is our job to not only
teach the curriculum, but to also teach life skills, how to behave and interact with
others, and to ensure the physical and emotional safety and health of our students.
Because so much bullying occurs at school, or going to and from school, the role of the
teacher becomes primary. Most elementary teachers encounter several instances of
bullying within a school year; however, many teachers feel helpless to address the
problem due to a lack of adequate skill and training to intervene (Entenman, 353).
Bullying has become a much more prominent and significant issue in schools
in todays society. Because of this, I believe that using critical literacy in classrooms
is a good way to address the issue of bullying; getting students to think about bullying
and social justice through their reading and writing is part of a multicultural education.
By doing so, we integrate and deepen students literacy experiences and help them deal
with bullies and/or imagine a better world (Henkin, vii). Critical literacy will help bring
up the discussion about bullying in classrooms and will allow students to see from the
perspectives of the bully, the victim, and the bystanders; literature prompts students to
explore their own feelings. They gain insight into human experience and begin to
understand themselves better (Gopalakrishnan, 8). Critical literacy in the broadest
sense, as the ability to use written and spoken language to help understand the human
condition, then literature can be studied to both improve reading comprehension and peer
relationships. If students are able to identify common pleasures and pains, and hopes and
fears encountered in literature, and if they are able to reflect upon and write about these
phenomena, their emotional growth can be affected (Hillsburg, 25). Because of this,
students, especially in middle school, are able to take a story to a higher level and turn it
into something more personal and meaningful.
From personal experience, if bullying was brought up and discussed through
critical literacy, I feel that I would not have suffered through being bullied. I wish that
more people were educated about this issue, especially my peers and my teachers. From
my research, I found that using critical literacy was the most helpful resource to discuss
the issue of bullying. Critical literacy encompasses not only literature, but other multigenres. The idea is to put the issue of bullying in a form that is easier for students to
relate to and to make personal, their own. Critical literacy allows students to make the
issue personal and to see it from all different perspectives. Bullying cannot be understood
or stopped unless everyone is aware of how it affects everyone. Teachers play the biggest
role in this because they witness bullying in their classrooms, and around the school
environment in general, on a daily basis.