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Bullying serious, but not always the problem

February 14, 2013
By Principal Paul Pfleuger
Valley View Elementary


As we continue into the doldrums of winter, sometimes patience can be lost; there is clearly a legitimate syndrome called, “Cabin Fever.” Conflict is a natural part of life; students will experience conflict at VVES.


At school, I have developed a list of options to try in times of conflict: talk it out, ignore, paper/rock/scissors, compromise, etc. (available upon request).


We ask the students to try three of these options before talking to an adult supervisor.


Most problems seem to disappear using this technique. Now, there are conflicts and there are true bully situations. Bully problems are serious and need immediate attention. But, all too often, conflict is automatically labeled as a bullying issue!


The important thing to keep in mind is that bullying does not go hand-in-hand with every conflict between students. I ran across an article written by Danah Boyd in The Wall Street Journal regarding bullying. I have included a few main points:


  • “Bullying is a serious issue. Cries to do something—anything—have triggered new legislation, school assemblies, and pressure to punish those who hurt others. As difficult as it is to step back and gain perspective, we must do so in order to actually address the problem.
  • “Bullies” usually aren’t the source of the problem: They’re often a symptom of the problem. Many bullies have difficulties at home or in school, and need just as much help as those who are targets of and bystanders to bullying.
  • Not all meanness and cruelty is bullying: Bullying refers to repeated psychological, social and physical aggression propagated by those who are more physically or socially powerful. Different strategies are needed to curb other types of meanness and cruelty, but it’s also important not to overreact.  Some forms of teasing, pranking and drama are perfectly healthy, even if they look troublesome from the outside.
  • When a child has been hurt, people want someone—or something—to blame, but rushing to prosecute purported bullies only undermines society’s ability to curb bullying. Rather than looking for people to blame, it’s important to look for root causes and work to address those. The blame game does little to stop the cycle of violence.
  • There’s no doubt that bullying does serious harm, both to those who are victimized as well as to perpetrators and bystanders. Combating bullying—alongside other forms of aggression and violence—should be a social priority. But bullying is not just a youth problem. If we want to help young people, we need to put an end to adult meanness and cruelty and take responsibility for how we perpetuate problematic values and intolerance. We cannot expect youth to treat each other kindly when we accept politicians berating each other for sport, parents talking behind their neighbors’ backs, and reality TV stars becoming famous for treating each other horribly. If we want to create a kinder, braver world, we must collectively work to develop compassion, empathy and respect.

Danah Boyd


I agree whole-heartily that bullying is a serious issue. This article offers an interesting perspective. Let me know if you would like a copy of this article in its entirety. In addition to this, check out Ask the Expert at now attached to our website.


The more you know, the smarter you grow!


Valley View Elementary School now has a voice mail system in the office.  You may leave messages before and after school regarding student absence or any other needs you may have.  We will also have school closure days on our message.


At the end of the second quarter we were able to celebrate 138 students who had perfect attendance during this grading period. Way to go students! Let’s see how the third quarter goes!


Below are listed the upcoming special events; most note-worthy is the School Carnival. Good Fun—Good Food—and Good Luck to the guys in the dunk tank!



2/14     4th grade ski

            Red, White and Blue Day Student Council

2/15     Book Making Workshop Public Library

2/18     Presidents Day—No School

2/20     2nd Grade Tubing

2/21     Winter Carnival at VVES

2/26     Visiting Author Carol Muzik 4th and 5th grade workshop—no assembly! Carol is the author of “Raising Lucy”. This children’s book may be purchase through the school. Carol will also have a book signing session on this day.

2/28     Mountain West Bank PTO Raffle! There are five items or packages available through this raffle. A BMX Bike value $340; an Auto Care Package value $220; Mini Retreat at KRI value $225; A Gardening Pack value $115 and a Craft Crate value at $180. Items are on display at Mountain West Bank. MWB will match funds spent on ticket sales. Total value of raffle over $1,000! Tickets $2 each or three for $5.

3/2       Dr. Seuss Birthday!

3/4-8   I Love to Read Week


Final note: On March 6 I hope to change my appearance and all the students need to do is … their best! Read more than you have to, then write with knowledge and purpose. What does a mustache have to do with academia?


When you work hard at school, you will make a difference! You can make change in the world!

Questions or comments about this letter? Click here to e-mail!