Understanding and Eliminating Bullying Behaviors

BRAINTREE, MA: Members of Archdiocese of Boston School communities are invited to listen to a series of three webinars on recognizing and minimizing bullying behaviors. The webinars, which are hosted by the Catholic Schools Office, are led by Dr. Elizabeth Englander, director of Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center (MARC) at Bridgewater State University. In addition, Dr. Englander is a professor and researcher at BSU.

Mary Goslin, director of government programs and grants at the Catholic Schools Office, organized the program. She said, “This series of webinars provides a level of support to our teachers that is greatly needed. These are difficult waters for parents and teachers alike to navigate, and having a toolkit with concrete strategies from a professional like Dr. Englander is a real gift.”

During the first webinar, held Feb. 26, “Responding to Subtle Behaviors that Lead to Bullying,” Dr. Englander described bullying behaviors and showed participants how to recognize subtle behaviors, known as gateway behaviors, and how to respond.

Dr. Englander explained that gateway behaviors are ones that show contempt, such as eye-rolling, laughing at someone, talking about someone in front of them, and ignoring someone when they talk. She elaborated, “It’s important to understand that gateway behaviors are insidious because they happen right in front of adults. In elementary school, the classroom is the second most common area children are bullied in, and in secondary school, it’s the most common area.”

She outlined a quick response that an adult should give when witnessing gateway behaviors. This response involves telling the student that you saw the behavior and stating that you find it rude, without referring to the intended target of the behavior. Dr. Englander said, “The bottom line is that you always want to respond to the overt behaviors. And if you see clues that indicate repetition or a power imbalance, you should investigate further and see if bullying is going on.”

Dr. Englander also addressed the impact of bullying online. She said, “Although severity of behavior does matter, what may matter even more is the context. If a child is also being targeted at school, then almost anything that happens to them online is likely to have a really big impact on them psychologically.

You can view the recordings of the webinars here:

​To learn more about the MARC Center, visit www.MARCcenter.org.

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