Bullying is one of the biggest problems that schools across the country face across all age levels. Most children can tell you a time that they were bullied before they go to middle school. The frequency of the incidents increases as students enter their teen years. While it is easy to state that you have a no tolerance policy for bullying, more needs to be done. School counselors and social workers need to work together to empower students to spread kindness over bullying.
Promote Acceptance of All Students
The first step in the process is to encourage acceptance of differences. All students are different and everyone is part of the diverse community. Children need to be curious about their peers and learn to embrace what makes each of them unique. At the elementary level, it is critical to promote acceptance and advocate understanding of individuals who are different.
At the elementary level programs must work on promoting neurodiversity. More children are being diagnosed with autism and other neurological differences. Kids will start to see differences in their peers and need to understand why a child may be afraid of noises because of sensory concerns. The more children understand, the better they can learn and eventually protect their peer from others who may try to bully them. In addition to this, counselors need to work with children on how to help a friend if they witness them being bothered by others. What is the protocol in school and who are people they may go to for help.
Encourage Daily Acts of Kindness
There are also programs which schools may look to work on encouraging daily acts of kindness. Values in Action is an organization which has programming that schools may use. They work on helping students and adults to build communities which are filled with kindness, caring, and respect. Their programs work on giving children and teens the resources to make positive values-based decisions. An example of a program is the Stick Together™ character education program for schools by Project Love and Duck Tape. This program is geared for grades 2-6 and often high school students help to present it.
At the middle and high school level, work with student organizations to come up with ways to do daily acts of kindness around the school and community. This could be something done during homeroom, enrichment periods, or even after school clubs. The more students are encouraged to make a difference in the daily life of others, the easier it will be for them to keep this up.
How are your schools working on the bullying epidemic? If there are programs or ideas which you have implemented in your buildings, please share them below.