Friday, March 9, 2012

The hidden cost of adolescent bullying

Relationships should be the fourth "R" in school.  This is a recommendation made by Rachel Simmons at the Westminster Town Hall Forum yesterday.  She is the author of Odd Girl Out - The hidden culture of girls. Ms. Simmons noted that children should no more be expected to be good at social skills any than we would expect them to know automatically understand math, reading or writing.

She also observed that society expects a "good girl" to be a pleaser, follow the rules, be a good student, likable, and be friends with all.  There are problems with girls being pressured in this way.
First, they lose social permission to express their strongest opinions.  They also don't develop the skills necessary to be assertive. Lastly, they become fearful of conflict.

Ms. Simmons noted how popular bullying behavior has become in the media.  She observed that "reality" television has turned humiliation into entertainment. Why should we expect our children to behave civilly when they witness the mean spiritedness of television celebrities, and yes, even our politicians?

IB students from Southwest High School
Prior to Ms. Simmons' presentation a group of students enrolled in Minneapolis' Southwest High School International Baccalaureate (IB) program eloquently spoke about what they believe. A few students also shared graciously of their considerable musical talents.

Jazz musicians
Rachel Simmons presentation, "The hidden cost of adolescent bullying", was broadcast live on Minnesota Public Radio.

A listing of upcoming Westminster Forums are available on the web.

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