Preventing Bullying at School Expert Says Everyday Incidents Can Lead to Violence

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Byline: Mark Spencer Daily Herald Staff Writer

Think of high school bullies, and the senior football player terrorizing the scrawny freshman band geek comes to mind.

But the pervasiveness of bullying in schools goes far beyond that to include boys and girls who hurt their friends and classmates in ways short of fights in the halls.

"It never starts with an all-out gun battle," said Joan Lampert, a social worker at Maine East High School. "In the situations that are more typical of high school are the rumors and the kids disrespecting each other."

Lampert, whose doctoral research on adolescent bullying recently included a sabbatical at Harvard University's Graduate School of Education, spoke with teachers at Stevenson High School on Wednesday about ways to discourage bullies.

Lampert said many parents and teachers overlook more subtle everyday teenage bullying that can lead to student violence, such as the taunting that led two outcast boys to commit a shooting rampage at Columbine High School in Colorado last spring.

Tolerance of aggressive and bullying behavior by other students, and teachers who don't get involved early enough can lead to an atmosphere that fosters incivility, she said. …