Saturday, July 14, 2012

Bully Mapping

There are times when I blog when I wonder about the consequences of what I “put out there” and how it may be perceived. There are also times when I feel like I’m getting thoughts out that may be incomplete or are in need of additional information. I try to explain to others about the nature of a blog not being a completist publication event. It is the spark, the impetus, if you will, for creating a conversation, not just the delivery of information. So please know, when I write what I’ve written here, it’s just that: a conversation starter. There are many implications and many holes to fill in, but the actions must begin.


I just read the most amazing blog post about bullying at summer camp and what one camp director did to begin to remedy the situation. YOU CAN READ THAT POST HERE.

One of the excellent ideas that the author wrote about was the concept of “sociograms.” The author describes them as “a social map of [a counselor’s] cabin twice per four-week session, to show which campers are ‘in’ and who’s being left out. On day five of each session, every camper fills out a questionnaire, which asks, among fun stuff like favorite activities, if anyone has made them feel unsafe.”

This resonated with me big time. This is a specific act that teachers can take to start curbing bullying at school. My mapping alarm went off. We can direct a path to our intended destination with just a few considerate and reflective moments of time.

When we map curriculum, we think first of evidence, then actions and tasks to get to that evidence. I think the same process would work for our work around antibullying efforts in schools.

This author gave me an idea that I’m calling RAP: Responsibilities, Actions, and Proof. (It relates to curriculum mapping: Content, Skills, Assessment.) If “RAP” is too convivial or contrived an acronym, use whatever you want to call it; but identify your action plan.

What are the Responsibilities around preventing bullying:

  • Conversation with students
  • Awareness of the outsiders
  • Monitoring of places where bullying could happen
  • Personal interactions
(Funny that those create an acronym: CAMP. That was the seed of this blog post!)

What are the Actions needed to stop bullying:
  • Knowing who the outsiders are and planning for specific actions to bring them in.
  • Keeping track of who is on the inside and who is on the outside.
  • Specifically addressing those who exclude others for any reason.
  • Creating a written plan/policy for those who bully others, and enforce it.
  • Getting personal with all students and using their individual interests to guide progress in creating and maintaining appropriate relationships.

What is the Proof that our plan is working:
  • Surveys of students that specifically address bullying, dignity, and safety
  • Personal interactions with stories of success
  • Observing students previously challenged integrated with peer groups
  • Reduction in the incidence of reported bullying episodes
  • Overall positive school culture as evidenced by preceding proof

Additionally, I think some attention should be paid, especially as kids get older, to online bullying episodes and actions being specifically addressed with proof something was done. Part of this means preventative measures including teaching students about internet safety, information literacy, and digital footprints.

I think too, it would be easy for this to turn into “bully tracking,” which is not what I’m suggesting. There may be some elements to self-fulfilling prophecies being fulfilled if we first identify someone as a bully or victim and then, perhaps subconsciously, treat them in a way that could enable behaviors that they would not have otherwise exhibited.

This is about observing who is in or out, identifying places where bullying could happen and being visible in those areas, how to bring everyone to the table, and creating a safe environment at school. “Bully Mapping” is about the plan for curbing behaviors that lead to bullying, the action triggers. If we want to prevent bullying, then we have to be mindful of the behaviors that precede it and quell those before the actions escalate.


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