07 October 2010

Anti-Bullying Campaigns and Homophobia...

Bullying is a serious problem in schools. Bullying happened when I was in high school, but when I think about bullying in 2010 then it becomes pretty obvious that school life for me was a breeze. Simply, in this age of technology bullying has become a 24/7 problem. In my day bullying sort of started when one got to school and ended at the end of the school day.

However, what I have noticed in my practicums to date is that mobile technology is so prevalent amongst our youth that problems like cyber-bullying are increasingly prevalent. It is not uncommon to see children with a happy disposition at the beginning of the day deteriorate throughout the day as a result of 'stuff' being posted about them on Facebook and Twitter and other social networking and media sites.

What used to be one-on-one or small groups-on-one has now morphed into something where "X is doing the deed with Y" is posted to 100s of people in an instant and then forwarded or retweeted into other social networks. It really is scary. And, in a lot of ways I am very glad to no longer be a child myself. But, I am a teacher, and a parent, and these are issues that I will have to deal with throughout my professional and personal life.

This post came about because of an interesting discussion I watched on Anderson Cooper 360 (and I embed it here courtesy of CNN) that was discussing bullying and the incorporation of material to address increasing homophobia in schools as part of an anti-bullying program. It was interesting to hear that children are coming out at ever-younger ages. This is interesting to me because I do not think that as a community we are ready for this. I do not think that we have universal and uniform mechanisms in place to deal with it. I think that in the school situation we are not prepared to address the gaps between policy and practice.

It amazes me that there are still those that want to stick their collective heads in the sand and continue to debate nature vs. nurture couched in terms of some sort of liberal conspiracy to promote a homosexual agenda. If people want to debate whether gay and lesbians are born or created then they should go for it on their own time. On my time I want constructive debate and discussion about how I can create and maintain a safe learning environment where children can get the education that I believe they have a right to receive. I am not going to get this by sticking my head in the sand and pretending that the children who are coming out proud about their sexual preferences are confused adolescent victims of a liberal homosexual conspiracy.

Bullying, and particularly cyber-bullying, is going to be one of the biggest challenges I face as a teacher / educator. I really hope I am up to the challenge.

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