Deconstructing Bullying Behaviors: A Narrative Perspective • Paul Ellison Psy. D., M. Ed. • Hana Ra Adams Psy. D., MA LMFT
Objective • Create new perspectives to decrease the influence of bullying behavior through a Narrative lens which emphasizes the values of collaboration and respect.
What is Narrative Therapy? • A narrative is a thread that weaves together events linked in a sequence across time and according to a plot to form a story; multistoried. • Narrative therapy involves ‘re-authoring’ or ‘re-storying’ conversations (Dulwich Centre Publications, 2000).
Narrative Principles • Deconstruction • Understanding stories within cultural contexts. • The context of gender, class, race, culture and sexuality are powerful contributors to the plot of stories. • Meaning-making
Narrative Principles • De-centered but Influential • Narrative practitioners are responsible collaborators and co-authors with a client rather than an all-knowing expert. • Curiosity
Narrative Principles • Externalization • This allows people to consider their relationships with problems. • People are not the problem. • Support a person’s resources and strengths.
Narrative Principles • Preferred Story • Stories that are identified by the person as stories by which they would like to live their lives. • Driven by beliefs, values, hopes and dreams. • Assist people to break from the influence of the problems they are facing.
What is Brought to the Bullying Incident? • All parties – experiencing, engaging in, or observing bullying • Problems and their affects – throughout the day, week, year • Resources – education, internal strength, humor, intelligence • Team Members – directly or indirectly involved
A Bullying Environment Has: IQ - 97, Reading - 68 Math - 86 “Talks too much in class” “Doesn’t talk loud enough Value statements Evaluation that leads to pathology Constant scrutiny may discourage students “Careless work” “Perfectionistic” “Too much energy” “Not enough energy” “Too fidgety” “Too passive” “Doesn’t share” “too pleasing” “Learns too slowly” “too advanced” (bored)
Narrative Values Diversity Good spatial skills, Finds decoding challenging, Strong computation “Enthusiastic” “Learns at their own pace” Engages in verbal participation readily “Too fidgety” “Too passive” “Finishes work in a timely manner” “Likes to please others” “Learns too slowly” “too advanced” (bored)
A Bullying Environment Has: Competition Example: “First one to clean up gets to help me with snack.” Effects of competition: • Focus on self rather than community • End justifies the means • Sharing and cooperation less attractive • Increases conflicts and put downs • Criticism and evaluation of self and others infiltrate students experiences.
Narrative Values Cooperation Cooperative learning -“Last time it took all of us 60 seconds to get ready, let’s see if we can beat that!” Effects of collaboration: • Life skills • Connection to group • Develop appreciation for classmates
A Bullying Environment Has: Comparisons to others Example: “You eighth graders should be better than the sixth graders.” Implications of comparison: • Confidence is increased by put-down of another instead of acknowledging and trusting ones values. • Youth are set against one another. • Adults fall into the trap of valuing children for what they could be instead of what they are.
Narrative Values Individual Growth and Strength Effects: • Provides an opportunity to explore ways of being that fit who they want to be • Builds confidence with improvement • Increases collaboration • Increases self efficacy
*Person Bullying Resources Problem Team Members *Persons Experiencing Bullying Problems Resources Problems Persons Observing Bullying Resources Problems Persons Observing Bullying Mainstream views Bullying as the problem The Bullying Incident
Narrative emphasizes Collaboration to assist all parties affected by bullying to develop strategies that strengthen hopes and values. Team Members Resources Person who Experienced Bullying Person now Standing up to Bullying Team Members Resources Person Standing up to Bullying “Active Witness” Team Members Resources Person Standing up to Bullying “Active Witness” Each person involved in the bullying incident has strengths and solutions. Person now Standing up to Bullying Person who Engaged in Bullying Behavior Resources Team Members
Aspects of a Good Anti-Bullying Plan The best way to prevent bullying behavior is to create an environment that is incongruent with the development of such problems.
Anti-Bullying Team • Have all parties involved in the bullying incident collaborate together to “trick” the problem of bullying. • Person Engaging in Bullying Behavior • Person Experiencing Bullying • Bystander(s) • Adults
Anti-Bullying Plan • The new team deconstructs the bullying incident to understand: • Context(s) in which is was created • What supported the behavior • Team develops a new Narrative on how to limit the negative influence(s) of bullying and re-author individuals’ experiences with bullying without labeling blame or shame.
How to be a Good Co-Author of the New Narrative • De-Centered but Influential – supporting role vs lead role • Be clear, consistent, sensitive, and compassionate when addressing bullying incidents. • Bullying exist partly because of silence. Take responsibility for aspects of bullying that you support and make appropriate changes. Discuss your changes with the children you influence.
How to be a Good Co-Author of the New Narrative • Have meaningful conversations with children. • Co-create meaningful rules to invite strengthening of values and more responsibility. • Provide good supervision. Safety is always first. • Collaborate with families, schools, and community organizations to communicate openly and to stand up to bullying.
Avoid Adultism Adultism – “Because I told you to...” Pattern of disrespect and maltreatment that affect young people by: • Undermining self confidence and self esteem • A consistent experience of not being taken seriously • A growing negative self concept • Increasing self destructive acts (Bell, 2011)
Messages from Adults that Strengthen the Preferred Story • No one ever deserves to be bullied. Don’t gossip or negatively participate in bullying incidents. • Put yourself in someone else’s shoes and act accordingly. • Telling is not tattling. • You are responsible for the implementation of solutions. • You are a strong and capable person. You have the power to make good choices and do good things.
Pitfalls of Adults Taking Over the Preferred Story • If adults “fix” things, it is often a short term solution. • Children’s resources and voices are not heard or enhanced. • Children are sent the message that they cannot handle difficult situations and/or they are weak. • Harsh punishments - can lead to the increase in group cohesiveness fueling the desire to bully the target more.
Supporting Active Witnesses • If danger is present, get help • Befriend the person being targeted • Refuse to spread rumors and laugh at hurtful encounters • Educate people about the bystander effect • Differentiate between tattling and telling • Intervene when possible and use people’s names to personalize and humanize the situation.
Additional Resources • Dr Paul Ellison • Phone: 612-708-8717 • Email: firstname.lastname@example.org • Dr Hana Ra Adams • Phone: 651-235-2551 • Email: email@example.com