The U.S. Department of Justice has just released Bullying in Schools, a 64-page document as part of its series on Problem-Oriented Guides for Police.

The document is full of good intentions and advice. But one sentence really stuck out, and it relates to the inability of victims to make the bullying stop on their own:

“The majority of chronic victims, however, are extremely passive and do not defend themselves.” (Page 13)

The answers involved mobilizing the community and having a heightened awareness of the problem within the parameters of school. But the bottom line of the document comes down to this:

“It has yet to be decided to what extent schools have an obligation to keep students free from mistreatment by their peers. However, early and sincere attention to the problem of bullying is a school’s best defense.” (page 14)

“Early” and “sincere” efforts must include concrete and specific ways that enable children to learn how to protect themselves from harm.

Kathy Mangold, editor and Verbal Defense & Influence Instructor