Since most every school has a bullying problem, why doesn’t every school have a prevention program?
Denial on the part of administrators, lack of interest by parents, teacher cooperation and money are some of the top reasons but none of them are good enough.
As for parents, a few parents can make a big difference. If you’re reading this, it’s clear that you’re interested. Find a few other parents who feel the same way. Research activities.
Many teachers have compassion and understand that students do better work when they feel respected and the general atmosphere is nurturing. Unfortunately, some teachers don’t. As a matter of fact, some teachers add to the problem. It’s just a fact. But engage the teachers who “get it.” You can’t change the school 100% but you can change the balance.
If money is a problem (and it almost always is), get creative.
Consider a “Leadership Program” to focus on the importance of the bystander and empower them to step up. Older kids can mentor younger kids. I started one of these programs in a school recently. There are many good children’s books about the right way to treat each other. Two of these are “Have You Filled A Bucket Today?” and “One.” When the older kids read these with the younger kids, the message is delivered to both. “Have You Filled a Bucket Today? has a wide variety of activities that can be downloaded for free.
Of course, not one of these ideas is the magic bullet. But they are a way of starting TODAY. To be successful, bullying prevention programs have to include everyone: administrators, teachers, parents, students, coaches, and even lunch monitors and it has to be consistent and constant. It’s overwhelming but starting small and doing things that include as many as possible is much better than doing nothing. Programs like Olweus are the preferred way to go: it includes training and is sustainable. But if you can’t find the money or you can’t get the teachers to jump on board, don’t let it stop you.
Every child deserves to be protected and supported. Don’t let excuses get in the way.
Tomorrow, I’ll post some links to free resources for online safety. Bullying doesn’t end in the schoolyard anymore.