This week, all over the internet news, is this unfortunate incident of a Texas teacher asking students to strike another student who was known to be a bully.The student identified as a bully, Aiden, is just 6 years old. The teacher asked students to hit the bully, “to teach him why bullying is bad.”

Ironically, corporal punishment is legal in some public schools but as the Reuters article points out, teachers -and not students- are the ones doling out punishments. When I read this story, it reminded me yet again how some schools are well equipped to deal with bullying while others are clearly not. Furthermore, a March 12th, 2012 article from Time reported that some of the new anti-bullying legislation implemented leaves the burden on to schools to fund required anti-bullying programs. Schools are left trying implement new programming with limited resources.

This Texas teacher clearly did not know how to appropriately address bullying. I have to wonder: why would an adult go to that extreme? To bully the bully back? Has Aiden truly learned to treat his peers with kindness and consideration? 

I attended a School Mental Health conference at Harvard this winter and had the pleasure of listening to Dr. Frank C. Sacco speak. He is the co-author of Why Anti-Bullying Programs Don’t Work.” Dr. Sacco’s philosophy (which is the same as mine and the philosophy where I work) is that the bystanders – not the bullies  – are the people with the most power to create a change and end bullying.

An entire school community must buy-in to the idea that addressing bullying by retaliatory acts is counterproductive. 

School fight photo available from Shutterstock.