Jon Anderson and Ben Scungio co-authored an article for the November 2017 issue of the Rhode Island Small Business Journal entitled: “Not Everyone Is A Bully: Resolving Conflicts in Schools and Beyond.” They are part of the education law team at BRCSM.
One of the watchwords in schools these days is “bullying.” It can undermine the safe learning environment that students need to achieve their full potential. However the concept of “bullying” may have expanded to the point where it is applied to situations when a child may merely not get along with a peer, not get invited to a birthday party, or, in the extreme, not pass a spelling test because he/she could not study because of being bullied.
Rhode Island law provides for a set of robust protections for a bullied child in our school systems. Once bullying behavior is identified, it’s time to roll out the crisis team and a school social worker or psychologist must be consulted.
It is unquestioned that victims must be protected from bullying in order to preserve a safe and respectful school environment and society; however, trends in schools across the country are toward over-identifying conflict as bullying.
Over-identification of bullying incidents can lead to situations where students don’t learn to deal with their actions and stressors and, ultimately, how to work with adults to resolve conflict with mechanisms such as conflict resolution and de-escalation. Most importantly, we may be creating perpetual victims who bring their lack of conflict resolution to the workplace of the future. Click on the image (left) to see the full article as a PDF or view it at the RISBJ site here.