Nova Scotia

Pediatrician urges no blame for bullying

A child who bullies another should be part of the discussion on how to end it, a pediatrician at the IWK Health Centre says.

A child who bullies another should be part of the discussion on how to end it, a pediatrician at the IWK Health Centre says.

Dr. John LeBlanc studies disruptive behaviours in elementary school children. He says punishing children who pick on others doesn't work, and neither does calling them "bullies."

"One is not a bully all the time and by labelling someone a bully we're kind of assigning them a role, so it is a negative thing that gets in the way," he told CBC News.

LeBlanc says instead of trying to lay blame, it's often better if a teacher gets the bullied child's permission to pull together a group of children, including the aggressor.

"The adult basically makes a contract with all of the children and says, 'Johnny is having trouble because somebody is beating him up walking to school. What can we do to help him?' And then goes around the circle and everybody make a little contract about what they're going to do over the next two or three days. And it might be, 'I'll walk home with him.'"

LeBlanc says the aggressive child in the group may not say anything but will see there is support from the other children and likely lay off.

LeBlanc would like to see this no-blame method used more widely in Nova Scotia schools. But so far, only a few people have been trained.

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