Faculty discuss bullying remedies on local news show

Penn State Harrisburg faculty researchers Shanetia Clark and Barbara Marinak advocate a simple way to help stop the rise in bullying in our nation’s schools. Teach students about kindness – and show them through books, other materials and discussion.

This view recently caught the attention of Harrisburg’s ABC 27 WHTM-TV, which featured Clark, assistant professor of education, and Marinak, assistant professor of reading, in a segment of the show "Highmark Healthy High 5."

“Technology provides a veil of anonymity” that gives today’s bullies even more power, Clark told reporter Flora Posteraro. Clark and Marinak also point to research suggesting that the problem is heightened by a general lack of civility and loss of empathy in society. The solution, or at least part of it, they said, is integrating lessons about kindness into school curricula and anti-bullying programs, citing research that indicates human kindness facilitates communication, cooperation, and trust in all arenas.

“We need to slow down and think about how to be civil,” said Marinak. “We need to talk more about using compassion to combat this growing problem, but we also need to illustrate for students the words we are using – tolerance, kindness, compassion – and to make these words part of the school culture that students experience.”

Clark and Marinak suggest schools can arrange discussions about bullying and kindness and integrate social studies and literature. They suggest numerous books for middle and high schools that can be used in various classes including psychology, sociology, English, and history to examine the responsible actions of citizens.

“Carefully selected texts provide an anonymous forum for students to examine the circumstances that can lead to violent behavior,” the researchers said. Clark and Marinak suggest books that contain messages highlighting attributes of kindness, such as sense of belonging, respect, honesty and empathy. The titles include: "Rescue Josh McGuire" and "Touching Spirit Bear" by Ben Mikaelson, "Radiance Descending" by Paula Fox, "The Misfits" by James Howe, "The Barn" by Avi, "Coast to Coast" by Betsy Byars, "The Chocolate War" by Robert Cormier, "Th1rteen R3asons Why" by Jay Asher, "The Scarlet Ibis" by James Hurst, "No Shame, No Fear" by Anne Turnbull, "Bait" by Alex Sanchez, and "Sucker" by Carson McCullers.

To view a video of ABC27's interview with Clark and Marinak, go to http://www.abc27.com/global/category.asp?c=189669&clipId=5310710&autostart=true

 

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Last Updated March 21, 2011