Bullying Expert to Lead Workshops in St. Charles

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), April 2, 2007 | Go to article overview

Bullying Expert to Lead Workshops in St. Charles


Byline: Rachel Baruch Yackley

Barbara Coloroso

Born: New York, but grew up in Colorado

Resides: Middleton, Colo.

Family: Husband, Don; three grown children: Anna, Maria, and Joseph.

Occupation: Speaker and author.

Little-known fact: "I used to be a Franciscan nun. I was a nun in Milwaukee during the Civil Rights era."

Are you the bully, the bullied, or the bystander? Do you know someone who falls into any of these categories?

According to Barbara Coloroso, the deadliest combination these days is bullies who get what they want from their target, bullied kids who are afraid to tell, and bystanders who either watch, participate, or look away. And unfortunately, added to that are adults who view these behaviors as simply a normal part of childhood.

There are ways to break this vicious cycle of violence. Come learn how when Coloroso presents her workshop: "The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander: From Preschool to High School - How to Break the Cycle of Violence."

This free program, sponsored by District 303's Parent University, is at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the auditorium at St. Charles North High School, 255 Red Gate Road in St. Charles. Register by calling (630) 513-4408.

Coloroso is an internationally recognized speaker and author of numerous books about parenting, teaching, school discipline, nonviolent conflict resolution and reconciliatory justice. She is an educational consultant and has been a classroom teacher, a laboratory school instructor and a university instructor.

Q: What will your workshop in St. Charles entail? What will you talk about?

A: It's a short walk from schoolyard bullying to a hate crime to genocide. In my bullying book I make a distinction between natural conflict in children's lives and bullying.

It's a standup comedy routine with decidedly serious stuff. I'll talk about defining bullying, about the way kids bully, and about the Bullying Circle: the Bullies; the Henchmen who help the bully; the Active Supporters who cheer the bully on; the Passive Supporters; the Disengaged Onlookers who turn away; Potential Witnesses - the kid who is raised to act, but who is afraid; the Resister, Defender, Witness - this takes a lot of guts and takes a lot of ethics. We want to raise kids who will stand up against injustice. We want to be raising children who care deeply, share generously and help others.

Q: Will you also be talking with students while you are here?

A: I am meeting with students during the day and with teachers later in the day. I have found it is so much more helpful to give the adults the tools I give to the kids. If I give them to the kids but not the adults, then the teachers don't get it.

Q: This isn't necessarily something new, and there are other authors and speakers presenting these types of programs these days. What's different or unique about the way you share your message?

A: Two things. First, I'm making the distinction between conflict and bullying. Second, I'm rooting the solution in deep caring, as opposed to punishment.

Punishment is an act; discipline is a process. I also want to keep the target safe, keep the witness safe, and then deal effectively with the bully. Especially in schools, we need to ask ourselves, do we retarget the target? I see teachers and principals who say that bullying is just normal behavior for kids, or who think that the victim asked for it.

Q: What do you think about teachers who respond that way, or who even make those kinds of comments to students? …

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