Bullying is rightly receiving increasing attention from educators, parents and other concerned citizens. Fortunately, there are more and more sources available to guide us as to what might be done to lessen the behavior. The powerful entertainment industry has added its voice to the issue via the Bully movie which has been viewed by over a million kids, teachers, parents, and advocates (www.thebullyproject). The goal is to build a national movement that will end bullying.
Given the widespread attention to this issue, rather than repeat ideas that are readily available, I would like to comment on a somewhat different aspect of the problem. It stems from an experience I had some years ago with a 10 year old boy who had an interesting homework assignment. He was asked to review highly popular cartoons aimed at young children and note the presence and treatment of aggressive acts. As we viewed the material, we were both amazed at the ubiquitous presence of violence. Whenever two or more characters were present, their exchange was marked by hitting, shoving, screaming and every form of abuse one might imagine. That pattern has only intensified in the current world of virtual reality where levels of extreme violence are ever-present. Via video games, children regularly see the killing of people and animals, the use and abuse of drugs and alcohol, criminal behavior including disrespect for authority and the law, sexual exploitation and violence toward women, foul language and obscene gestures and on and on.
Not unexpectedly, students increasingly display their violent fantasies publicly via digital devices. Research shows that hours of exposure to violent media make kids react in more hostile ways compared to ones who do not spend lots of time on those games.
Aggression is part of life and it will not serve us well to have the politically correct movement extend its reach and try to control this area with self-defeating attempts at censorship. At the same time, the problems are extremely serious and it seems essential that we have a national discussion on what can be done in this area. The health of our children is at stake.
Dr. Marion Blank has spent over forty years studying how children learn to read and is recognized by her peers as one of the world’s top experts in literacy and language. In addition to being the co-founder and Chairperson of the Reading Kingdom, she also serves on the faculty of Columbia University where she developed and ran the Light on Learning Program.Dr. Blank obtained her Ph.D. in Medical Psychology from the University of Cambridge in England.
She then went to the Albert Einstein College of Medicine where she participated in a research unit on human behavioral development and directed the teaching program of the Interdisciplinary Training Program. Subsequently, she was a Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Rutgers Medical School where she directed the research unit in reading disabilities.
Among her many achievements, she has lectured extensively around the globe, served as a consultant to government bureaus in many different countries, received numerous awards and commendations, authored the widely used Preschool Language Assessment Instrument (PLAI), developed the award-winning and highly successful Sentence Master computer program that teaches reading, created the Phonics Plus Five Reading Program, and written over sixty articles and seven books on language and literacy.
Her latest book is The Reading Remedy. Described by Kirkus Reviews as “an invaluable resource,” The Reading Remedy explains Dr. Blank’s reading system in depth. In addition to her work at Columbia University, Dr. Blank operates a private practice in New York and New Jersey where she is a licensed psychologist. Additionally, she serves as a consultant to a wide range of school districts in the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
Dr. Blank is a member and fellow of the American Psychological Association and a member of the Association of Children with Learning Disabilities. She has served on the editorial boards of a number of journals concerned with the issues of language and learning (e.g., Child Development, Applied PsychoLinguistics, Early Child Development and Care) as well as the boards of numerous committees including the William T. Grant Foundation and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Dr. Blank has also made numerous television appearances, including ABC News, CBS News, FOX and the BBC.
Dr. Blank has devoted her life to helping children learn to read, and she has used her innovative methods to help literally thousands of kids. Now, with her groundbreaking new reading program, The Reading Kingdom, she is making her system available to every parent.