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My Bully Pulpit

“Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.” (James Baldwin)

DSCN3317I don’t have kids. Every time I am moved to write about kids, I feel obliged to footnote that fact. I’ve never been in the trenches of raising them, of watching them take first steps and then fall on their butts, of witnessing them learn and grow and miraculously develop into autonomous little humans. I haven’t vicariously shared their wins, their losses, or their wounds—and felt these so deeply that I feared my heart would break.

Nonetheless, my heart does break when I read about the gauntlet of bullying so many children face on their journey to adulthood. I’ve written about bullying a lot, in this blog, and in my book.

For some kids, the pandemic offered a respite from bullying. Remote schooling provided a break from name-calling, playground taunts, and the accompanying shame and insecurity. However, remote schooling came with a cost—many costs. We’re learning that many kids are now lagging a year or more behind in academic skills. They’re reading at lower levels, and testing poorly in nearly every subject.

And it’s not just academics that have fallen behind. Studies are now showing that kids have lost a year or more in their social development. One way this is manifesting now that schools have resumed in-person learning is that bullying is back and often worse than ever. Continue reading

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