The Punch-Up on the Playground

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Sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me. While it’s one of the oldest rhymes around, it’s one that experts say needs revising in the face of a new generation of schoolyard bullies. We’ve all known a bully or been one at one time or another. But observers are insisting that today’s bullies are dangerous, and more violent than in the past, that these tough kids roaming the schoolyards, and cafeterias pose a new threat that teachers, already overworked and stressed-out just can’t handle alone.

There’s been national attention on school bus beatings, a kid thrown in a dumpster, a girl’s hair set on fire, and some states have passed anti-bullying laws. But, policy aside, kids are still punching it up on the playground. Is it a rite of passage, or a question of human rights?


Betty Davidson, parent

Dr. Susan Swearer, Professor of Educational Psychology

Chris Toy, Principal of Freeport Middle School, Maine

David Levine, teacher and anti-bullying educator.