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Improve Peer Relations and Reduce Victimization
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In the last section, we discussed two techniques that can help students deal with verbal bullying. These two techniques are Asking Questions and Agreeing.
In this section... we will discuss helping students deal with prejudice in bullying by looking for ‘golden nuggets’ of truth in the bully’s statement.
Mike, age 14... was one of very few black students at his high school. Recently, Mike began having trouble with Kyle, a 16 year old boy who often used racial slurs as part of his verbal bullying. Mike stated, "The other day during lunch, Kyle actually called me a nigger. I couldn’t believe he would actually say that! It’s bad enough that he pushes me around, but that’s really low. How am I supposed to deal with someone like that?"
♦ Technique: The 'Golden Nugget’
I stated to Mike, "When a bully uses prejudice as a weapon, one technique you can try is called the ‘Golden Nugget’ technique." Before explaining the Golden Nugget technique, I reviewed the turning insults into compliments, asking questions, and agreeing techniques, which we discussed in this course in sections 2 and 3. These three techniques form the framework for the Golden Nugget technique.
I stated to Mike, "When Kyle starts using prejudice as a weapon against you, keep asking him questions until you find a ‘golden nugget’ of truth or goodness in what Kyle is saying. Once you find a small sparkle of goodness, you can then use the agreeing or turning insults into compliments technique.
Let’s try a role play so that we can see how this technique works in action. You can take the role of Kyle."
--Mike stated, "One of Kyle’s favorite put-downs is ‘hey you black nigger!’"
--I replied, "A first thing you might say to Kyle is, ‘I’m glad you noticed that I’m black, but why are you going to so much effort to point out my race?’"
--Mike responded, "Well, I know what Kyle would say to that. ‘Because I don’t like niggers.’"
--I replied, "What don’t you like about black people?"
--Mike answered, "You people are always pushing everyone around!"
--I responded, "Are you trying to make sure that I don’t push people around?"
--I stated, "I think it’s great that you care so much about other people and want to protect them."
--Mike stated, "Don’t get smart with me!"
--I responded,"I really mean it. I’m sure you have friends and family you care a lot about and you want to make sure that no one jumps them or gets the best of them."
--Mike answered,"That’s right…"
♦ Rule of Backwards
I stated to Mike, "It can be very tempting to defend yourself and others against prejudice, especially when a bully is using such hurtful language. But according to the Rule of Backwards, defending yourself against prejudice can often make bullies feel even more prejudiced. By showing interest in what Kyle thinks, and finding something good to point out about his ideas, without compromising your ideas, interrupts Kyle’s prejudice.
"By pointing out that Kyle must care about his family, you sneak in the back door of his mind and make him feel good. In addition, you distract his attention away from the prejudicial language he used. By not responding angrily to Kyle’s prejudicial language, you also fail to provide him with the angry response he was probably looking for."
As you know, the Golden Nuggets technique can be implemented against any kind of prejudice in verbal bullying. In recent years, I have found that one of the most common forms of prejudice in bullying concerns thinking that some students are not as good as others because they can’t afford the ‘right’ clothes or accessories.
Martina, age 17... came from a very poor family. Martina stated, "I don’t want to go to school anymore. As soon as I walk in the door in the morning, Ashley and her clique are right there, making fun of my clothes. I can’t stand it!"
I invited Martina to participate in a role play to see how the Golden Nuggets technique can be used to deal with prejudicial verbal bullying concerning financial status.
--Martina took the role of Ashley, and ask, "Wow, Martina, what trash bin did those shoes come from?"
--I replied, "If Ashley makes a statement like that, try looking confused. Then you might state, ‘Hmm, I just don’t get it?"
--Martina asked, "Don’t get what?"
--I stated, "Why does someone like you, who has a lot of friends and knows how to dress, care what I wear?"
--Martina stated, "You don’t fit in!"
--I responded, "That’s so sweet of you to want to help me fit in! It’s really sad the way some kids get left out because they can’t buy the right stuff or aren’t concerned about style."
Think of your Martina. Could the Golden Nuggets technique help him or her deal with prejudicial verbal bullying regarding financial status? How might you adapt the Golden Nuggets technique to help a client deal with other forms of prejudice in verbal bullying? Would playing this section be beneficial?
In this section... we have discussed helping students deal with prejudice in bullying by looking for ‘golden nuggets’ of truth in the bully’s statement.
In the next section... we will discuss helping students deal with verbal bullying by expressing feelings in a calm and constructive manner.
- Cohen-Posey, K., MS. (1995). How to Handle Bullies, Teasers, and Other Meanies. Highland City, Florida: Rainbow Books, Inc.
Veenstra, R., Lindenberg, S., Huitsing, G., Sainio, M., & Salmivalli, C. (2014). The role of teachers in bullying: The relation between antibullying attitudes, efficacy, and efforts to reduce bullying. Journal of Educational Psychology, 106(4), 1135–1143.
Peer-Reviewed Journal Article References:
Swearer, S. M., & Hymel, S. (2015). Understanding the psychology of bullying: Moving toward a social-ecological diathesis–stress model. American Psychologist, 70(4), 344–353.
Van Ryzin, M. J., & Roseth, C. J. (2018). Cooperative learning in middle school: A means to improve peer relations and reduce victimization, bullying, and related outcomes. Journal of Educational Psychology, 110(8), 1192–1201.
What is a technique you might use to help students deal with prejudice in verbal bullying?
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