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CHAPTER 11: Children, Social Problems, and Society 345 mildly aggressive actions and especially verbal insults as part of peer or school culture. Further, students and teachers often do not share definitions of bullying with each other. For example, many students thought it was normal for older kids to tease or intimidate younger kids (this was espe- cially true for older and younger siblings). Such judgments were often dif- ferent regarding characteristics of those who perpetrate and those who receive especially verbal aggression. For example, “individuals hear antibul- lying messages in school or in the media . . . they likely filter these messages through their own definitions. A student who ‘picks on the nerds’ but also gets good grades may ignore these messages because she does not see them as relevant to her interactions while one who perceives himself as a nerd who is picked on may wonder why the national dialog surrounding bullying has not resulted in more significant changes” (2016, p. 118). Harger suggest that laws prohibiting bullying are unlikely to lead to meaningful change when each individual defines and interprets bullying differently. He suggests instead “that schools might be better served by focusing less on labels like ‘bully’ and more on particular behaviors that are to be taken seri- ously by students, teachers, staff members, and principals” (2016, p. 94). While the writings I have reviewed here vary in their approach to bul- lying, all share the goal of building more caring and compassionate cultures in schools. They discuss different programs that have been successful in doing so, but many have faced budget issues in continuing their efforts. Governments at the local and national level have become more proactive regarding bullying. The Department of Health and Human Services has a website ( ) that provides numerous resources for children, youth, parents, teachers, schools, and communities. We are also seeing more public service messages to address bullying on the Internet, radio, and television produced by a wide range of both governmental and nongovernmental organizations. There has been a good deal of debate about the quality and effectiveness of public service messages (Wiseman, 2011). Some messages that are considered the most effective often involve children and youth in their production. This point brings us to a final impor- tant aspect of bullying and high-level aggression: The majority of children and youth do not participate or condone such behavior. Most children and youth have highly supportive peer relations and friendships. However, there is less research on these children and youth and the nature of their peer relations. We tend to shine the spotlight on things like bullying because (Continued) Copyright ©2018 by SAGE Publications, Inc.
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