'Bully Coach' Gives Talk at Clinton School
Author Joel Haber, Ph.D, talks to fourth and fifth graders and their parents about bullying.
"Bullying is really important to work on because it’s such a problem," said Joel Haber, Ph.D, on Wednesday night at Clinton School. Hosted by the Parenting Center and the elementary school PTAs, Haber, known as "The Bully Coach," gave a presentation for fourth and fifth graders and their parents on bullying. A national summer camp bullying consultant, Haber wrote the book "Bullyproof Your Child for Life."
Haber’s presentation was interactive, and he asked fourth and fifth graders about bullying they have witnessed or experienced. "Why do we hurt other kids?" he asked the audience. "Because it can be fun, that’s why." He said that children should learn to work out conflict by talking things out.
According to Haber, there are three kinds of bullying. Physical bullying includes punching, hitting, kicking, and even taking someone’s things. He asserted that physical bullying has decreased over the past 10 years, but children have come to rely on other forms. The second kind of bullying is through words, and the third is through exclusion, by not letting someone play or sit with a group at the lunch table. This is "the worst" type of bullying, according to Haber.
Haber has devised a "social ladder" with different categories of kids: popular, middle and bottom. Most kids want to be in the popular group; however, only 10 to 15 percent are. Kids in this group are social, smart, popular, leaders and are well-liked. Haber addressed the difference between a leader and a bully. Bullies are mostly in the popular group; however, he noted that leaders have empathy, but bullies do not. Bullies don’t feel what everyone else is feeling.
The bottom group consists of shy kids, and kids that do not fit traditional gender roles. This group is bullied the most.
Many kids are perfect targets for bullies. Bullies target kids who are different, who are tattle-tales, and who cry when bullied or get emotional. Haber says that he can tell the popular kids from the "bottom" kids in the first five minutes of observing a class on the first day of school.
Often, teachers don’t catch bullying. This is because teachers are in the classroom, while bullies are on the playground. Bullies will only act out when no adult is in sight. Plus, when bullies are punished by teachers, they don’t necessarily change their ways. According to Haber, 70 percent of kids just watch bullying happen and don’t stand up for each other.
"You really can’t stop bullying," says Haber. "They (bullies) can’t help themselves."
According to Haber, schools must become more involved, and "confidential reporting is critical."
Jared Kofsky is an 11-year-old student in the SO-M school district, who is a local history buff and train historian.