Dr.Jessie Klein, PHD, MSW, M.Ed. is an Assistant Professor of Sociology/Criminal Justice at Adelphi University. Over the last two decades she also led and administered high school guidance programs. She served as a supervisor, school social worker, college adviser, social studies teacher, substance abuse prevention counselor and conflict resolution coordinator.
The interview starts with:
CC: I am joined today by Dr. Jessie Klein who has written a very interesting book called The Bully Society. Doctor Klein, do you mind telling us a little bit about your background and a little bit about your book?
JK: I am currently Assistant Professor in Sociology and Criminal Justice at Adelphi University, Long island, Garden City, in New York. Prior to that, I was a school social worker among other roles in the New York City public high schools and I wrote the book from a number of different perspectives with my own experience of growing up in schools as everyone has and my experience as a social worker and guidance councillor as such in public schools and then doing a tremendious amount of research since then.
CC: Would you say in your opinion bullying is as big an issue today as it would have been 10 years ago or 15 years ago? Or we finally getting on top of bullying and starting to fix the problem?
JK: I think, unfortunately, it is a problem that is getting worse and you can see that by the numbers shootings related to school bullying and how this increased. I have a chart on my website which is jessieklein.com and you can click on the chart and I have statistics there and that show how school shootings have practically doubled from one decade to the next starting 1979 to the present, and it is very disturbing that the bullying used to have the same character but there are so many more issues coming up and conflicts between students and adults. More adults are being targeted as well as kids. So, I think unfortunately it has gotten quiet a lot worse than before and that the ramifications are way more extreme than ever before.
CC: Of course, we too see that. We too get to see the American stories, the sad stories, over here but we are actually starting to feel the same impact happening here in Ireland and then the UK which is obviously very worrying for us and this is actually the topic of your book or a core point in your book that things actually getting worse. Society is failing young people and actually things are getting worse and it will continue to get worse unless we take corrective actions, is that correct?
JK: Yes and I would like to say 2 things on that. One is that when I first started writing, the character of school shootings were very different – those in New York are different than the other ones in Germany. In Germany they are often about kids who had gotten punished and they were targeting their teachers, students who had failed their high stake exams and were targeting a teacher. While most of the shootings in the United States were more about somebody being called gay and obviously bullied and harassed and mostly targeting other children. One of the worst shooting in Europe, was in Germany I think in 2002 and since then, unfortunately,the United States started to do much more high stake tests in high schools and schools are encourage to do high stake exams and getting grants. That kind of accountability and there are more get tough policies that are well-meaning and I think they are trying to address school bullying but they often have the opposite effect and very sadly there are more teachers and principals and guidance counsellors now being targeted in United States for similar reasons to what was going on in Europe. In addition to the responses the kids have to being gay bashed or thought bashed or otherwise name-called.
CC: A very tough job in education now for teachers and principals because they are responsible for the grades, they have a duty of care for the children but also I guess with this epidemic that is happening as well, it is another piece of work and a big part of their work daily which they need to work on to make sure that our young people become better citizens tomorrow. Do you think that they are getting enough support in what they are doing? Do you think there is more that could be done in schools in general, even if it is society or community that the work needs to be done on to try and help bring our kids up to understand and respect each other better?
To read more, click here: nobullying.com/jessie-klein-on-bullying/