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Behavior & Learning in School/What would happen when students make fun of a


QUESTION: What would happen when students make fun of a US born girl because she is a perception foreigner? Every body knows that she has dual Belgium/US nationality. Reason she is born in the United States but every body thinks she is born in her motherís native country Belgium and she only speaks Dutch to her mother. She is the best-behaved child of the entire school, and can speak/read/write English better than most American children. She gets along fine with the staff of the school, but does not get along well with the other students.

ANSWER: Dear Shimsionnul,

In the United States, there is a sub-culture called "mean girls".  It says that many girls take great joy in putting some other girls down and making fun of them.  There are different degrees of this terrible behavior, from mild to severe.  Some girls have killed themselves because they were made to feel so lonely and ugly or different.

Our schools and governments are doing different things to speak out against this "bullying" behavior, but it still goes on.  Poor parenting is the cause. Lack of faith in the Creator is another reason why it is going so strong.  Poor supervision at schools is another factor.

If I saw any of this in my first grade classroom I told the children that people who are mean to others really don't like themselves at all.  Then I asked the children to think about it: "If you liked yourself, and were using all of your natural talents and gifts to make the world a better place, would you be interested in bothering or hurting another person?"  They would all think for a moment and then say, "No, not at all, I'd be busy doing all the things I liked to do and was good at and I'd want to help other people."  Then I'd tell them, "Of course!  So, if you see someone bothering you or another person, don't be afraid of them but feel sorry for them, because they don't like themselves and maybe you can pray and ask God if there is something that you can do for them to help them like themselves better.  Also, if someone else is feeling sad that others are bothering them, take them by the hand and lead them away from the unfriendly "noise" and talk to them about happy things and include them in your group of friends, but don't forget to also try and be friends with the bullies."

If first graders could understand this, older children should also be able to understand.  When I talked to the class like this the "mean kids" also understood it and began to change by themselves, as they were ashamed to think that they didn't like themselves.

I wish you the best,
Marsha Cunningham

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: What would happen to this child, if she can't make fiends or get along with the other students, 100 percent the fault of the other student, but gets along fine with the staff. Her Belgium other can read and write English better than most Americans but it is her second language?

Well, I guess I was thinking that my advice would fix this problem and you wouldn't have to wonder what would happen to her, but maybe you are not in the position to make anything happen.  I can't say what would happen.  No one can say.  She sounds like a mature child and mature children usually have self confidence.  Someone needs to reason with her along the lines of the advice I gave, to help her understand the situation. You don't give her age or your relationship to her.  I thought that you were her teacher.  The only sure answer is a spiritual one.

Do you pray?  Do you know the child?  if she prays?  Prayer has fixed everything in my life, the willingness to see myself as God sees me and to see others as God sees them.

My best to you

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Marsha Cunningham


I counseled my students everyday about what to do if they got bullied, called names or felt depressed. I explained what these things do to our confidence and ability to learn.


We used drama to play act, on the spot, most adverse situations so that they could understand my explanations and practice correct behavior, and see what it felt like to be assertive toward bullies, or how it felt to be bullied.

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