Wednesday, September 10, 2014

How Do You Address Bullying with Older Kids Who Should Know Better, but Just Don't Get It

There are middle school, junior high, and even high school kids who should recognize that bullying is bad, but they are unconvinced.  One way to have kids look at the topic more seriously is to have them consider the broad group of people who get bullied and the long trail that bullying leaves.  In this way, it may suggest to them  that bullying is a potential problem for everyone--including themselves. 

People of all kinds are bullied.  Even courageous athletes were bullied.  And in today's social media world, kids who find themselves ridiculed are often unable to defend themselves.  And it goes much deeper in some ways because there are so many ways to ridicule people today.  The good news is that people are responding positively to campaigns that address bullying.  And the cause has been picked up in places by people who most kids admire. There have been several cases of openly gay athletes who have joined teams under the watchful eye of coaches and managers.  It might be a good thing for kids to understand---the NFL and other sports organizations are working at building more tolerant organizations.  Even the most popular sports figures often speak out against bullying.  

Merkle Book
We published a book called Public Bonehead, Private Hero: The Real Legacy of Baseball's Fred Merkle by Mike Cameron that is essentially the story of an excellent intelligent athlete who was ridiculed by the press and fans for a base running error.  The error was actually being committed by most ballplayers at the time, but an opposing team and an umpire decided to enforce a rule during a critical game in a tight Pennant race.  Merkle was called out and a run his team had just scored was cancelled out.  The story revolved around one of the most interesting baseball seasons in history and America's Progressive Era.  So the book is a history lesson on two levels.  

Public Bonehead, Private Hero not only demonstrates that most everyone can fall into the path of bullying, but it shows how the hurt continues.  In Merkle's case, his family suffered miserably due to his misfortune.  Merkle was called sports greatest scapegoat and although the incident that resulted in his humiliation occurred early in his career, fans and sports writers never seemed to forget it.  In fact, for Merkle and other famous sports scapegoats, such incidents frequently end up in the obituary columns.  In Merkle's case, his wife and daughters understandably never got used to the idea of so many people referring to their beloved father as "Bonehead" Merkle.  

For those who just don't get the harm in bullying, the Fred Merkle story found in Public Bonehead, Private Hero may help them get the message. 

 Bullying information:

Stop Bullying: A federal government website


American Psychological Association

National Education Association