Big Bullying Questions: What works? Who’s responsible? at an Ohio school lets students know they will be called on bad behavior.Guest columnist Joe Grimm teaches journalism at Michigan State University and leads a team of students researching the issue of bullying. Policy-makers nationwide are looking for guidance on how to tackle this problem. You can help by reading this column, then adding a comment below.
This is Joe Grimm’s last of five columns …

We’re now facing the biggest questions about bullying—the core of what educators, lawmakers and parents are struggling to determine: What works? And, who’s responsible to take the next steps?

All this week, we’ve touched on major topics that our MSU journalism students are sorting out for their final report on bullying: What’s the definition? And how has cyberbullying complicated the problem? Should we all just tell kids to toughen up? During our week-long series, we even saw the hit TV show Glee build an episode around the issue, and we looked at legal and media developments in recent years.

There is no question about this: A national chorus is calling for answers. Celebrities, politicians and athletes have come out against bullying. They join parents, teachers and other educators who have been fighting it for a long time.

What works? Intervention. That seems to be one key to prevention. But who will do that? A major Pew study found that many teens stay on the sidelines when they see bullying online. Perhaps they are trying to deprive bullies of the audience that is their oxygen. You may have maintained an awkward silence yourself when you saw others get bullied in school or at work.

Here are a few other things we have determined:

We need to declare bullying inappropriate: The first step is to make it clear that bullying as well as hazing, social exclusion and other aggressive behaviors—are inappropriate.

Don’t be silent: The next step is to call people on it, just as we have learned to call people on racist jokes or other kinds of harassment.

Admit that laws are limited: New laws may be important, but we need to realize that they don’t kick in until after an offense has been committed. New laws can only be part of the answer.

Now, it’s your turn—and we’d really like to know what you think about these issues.

What do you think will work?

Who’s responsible to take action?

What points should our team be sure to make in our report?

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Originally published at, an online experiment in civil dialogue.

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