Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Semantics of Mean

This from retired teacher Gregg Weinlein in Education Week:
The volume on the subject of bullying has grown even louder in recent weeks with the conviction of Dharun Ravi in a hate crime against his college roommate, Tyler Clementi, and the release of two documentaries on the subject: “Speak Up” and the forthcoming “Bully.” While parents, legislators, and even student advocates continue to articulate the seriousness of bullying and the toll this activity takes on children and teens, the use of electronic devices and the Internet to telegraph information, as evidenced, in fact, by Ravi’s conviction, now firmly frames cyberbullying in a criminal context. I believe this is a step in the right direction.

Too often, teens flip off the word “bully” as childish, knowing that assailants today are much more vicious than the playground bullies of the previous century. Teenagers today must fend off the silent assassins of the digital age, who operate with phones and tablets and plant emotional land mines in social-networking sites. The harassment and text assaults perpetrated by some teenagers should have a criminal connotation if we are to see a shift in how older students perceive and understand this abusive behavior....

[E]lementary school children have no problem identifying the bully, or the bullied. They know the victim. They know the oppressor. They know and trust the authority figures who have the power to stop the behavior. Unfortunately, in the complex world of adolescence, where high school cliques own the hallways and silent assassins take aim, “bullying” has been jettisoned from teenage culture to the world of young children. The intensity and pain felt by victimized teenagers transcend their ideas of childish bullying. Compound the pain of teen victims with their belief that adults do not understand their cries for help, and suddenly the most important element of intervention is lost: trust.... 
This from Taylor Swift at the 54th Grammys: Mean

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