Some schools around the country are already out for the year. In the East, where I live, they only have a couple of more days before they’re free!
Even if your school is already in vacation mode, it’s a good time to send them an email or a note to ask “What’s up?” for next year.
If you don’t already have a bullying prevention program in place, here are a couple of suggestions to get started.
Programs have to engage the following stakeholders: Principals, teachers, after school staff, lunch monitors, parents, and finally, the kids.
Here are some simple and cost efficient ways to get started:
Principals and Teachers: Check out this three day conference in NYC hosted by the Center for Social and Emotional Education and suggest that someone in the school or school district go for professional training. I’ve met with this group and I have a lot of respect for their work. School climate is a critical and complicated subject which requires professional guidance. Information learned at the conference can be shared with all other adults in the building that interact kids, including after-school staff. If it’s not possible to come to NYC, there are other organizations that host them in different parts of the country.
Parents: Enlist the support of the other parents while you’re at barbeques or the pool. Believe me, it’s a subject that hits a nerve with more parents than you would have guessed. There’s safety in numbers and instead of complaining about kids bullying other kids, do something about it. Start forming a group of interested parents to come up with resources and age appropriate ideas that the school can incorporate when the new school year comes around.
A book I found inspiring is Schools Where Everyone Belongs by Stan Davis. I love the title. It’s a positive message that he reinforces over and over again with good clear examples of the challenges and how to overcome them.
And since we can’t forget that the kids also live in an online world, I suggest the following web sites: Common Sense Media and iKeepSafe. They have tremendous resources for homes and schools. The government also offers free booklets about online safety and they’re great: Netcetera.
Students: Two great books that can jump start an anti-bullying or leadership campaign in elementary schools: Have You Filled a Bucket Today and One. It’s amazing what happens when you put older kids together with younger kids to read these two books and discuss them. With a little guidance, kids mentor each other better than we ever could.
There are dozens of ways to approach school climate and bullying issues. Just start somewhere. Something unexpected happened when I started a home grown campaign at a local school. Kids weren’t necessarily expecting miracles but things seemed to improve simply because someone was paying attention to the problem. Some kids were relieved that we were bringing up the subject. Once again, it was proof that we don’t always know what’s going on in their minds or their world.
So have a frozen concoction, preferably with a little umbrella, and starting getting creative.