Today, thanks to the link posted by my EdTech teacher on twitter, I read an article about slut-shaming and cyber-bullying.
As a future teacher, I find this topic relevant and important to discuss. Bullying affects a multitude of students every year. It can cause severe mental breakdowns and can even lead to the grave consequence of suicide. Bullying comes in many forms, from physical abuse to hurtful words or stereotypes.
What I think a lot of teachers may not understand is that we need to take steps to help prevent bullying that occurs outside of classroom, as well as within. Yes, it is easier to control what is within our view and reach, but bully prevention goes beyond the classroom walls. My favourite suggestion from the article, under what can we do, is number two, “help students deconstruct media messages and develop critical thinking skills”. This is so important because we need to remember that society is now very much intertwined with technology. Social media and others are not things that can easily be avoided or simply cut out of students lives. It is how they connect and branch out.
This all means that they will be exposed to peers comments, media that is telling them what they should look like as well as what being useful and successful looks like. This is damaging in so many ways, not only because success will be defined differently for every individual, but also because so much media is geared towards the superficiality aspects of life. In other words, most of it is image based. It can be showing you how to look, but it can also be telling you what you should have and where you should be in order to be on the train that everybody else is on. Even our peers are only showing us a constructed reality of their lives through medias such as facebook and instagram because generally they are only sharing their good moments. I have a friend who once showed me a picture that she was tagged in and she said “This picture makes me laugh because everyone here was having a pretty shitty night. Yet we are all smiling and the caption is ‘great night out with my girls’.” This really gave me a new perspective on the stories we shape in media.
Not only that but cyber-bullying is used a lot today because it is easy for students to say cruel things when it is not face to face. Talking about this helps. It helps because students need to know how to recognize it so that they can tell someone.
The important thing is to help students deconstruct negativity early on. Developing critical thinking is vital because it will teach students to see where the truth is and where a false standard is being presented to them.
i want to apologize to all the women i have called beautiful
before i’ve called them intelligent or brave
i am sorry i made it sound as though
something as simple as what you’re born with
is all you have to be proud of
when you have broken mountains with your wit
from now on i will say things like
you are resilient, or you are extraordinary
not because i don’t think you’re beautiful
but because i need you to know
you are more than that”
― Rupi Kaur
This poem is presented in the article. I find it positively wonderful though, so I thought I might share it again. The poem is directed to women, but I believe the same truth can be said about humans. It is not our skin that dictates our persons. We easily forget that it is what is on the inside that counts, but that can be fixed more easily when we start to let false standards and stereotypes dissipate.
This leads me into my next favourite tip from the article which is that, as teachers, it is our duty to teach students about their worth. I cannot express how intelligent this is. If children had any inkling to their worth, they may be able to stand up and say “I know who I am. I also know I am not what others think of me”. It is important to constantly remind them how valuable they are to you. Set the example so that they can learnmto appreciate each others unique qualities. Mental wellness in students is what will make them strive and achieve greatness. Being comfortable with your peers, in the classroom and with yourself is the first step to successful learning.