October is Bullying Prevention Month across the United States.
As www.stopbullying.gov, a federal government website managed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, states, “When adults respond quickly and consistently to bullying behavior they send the message that it is not acceptable. Research shows this can stop bullying behavior overtime. Parents, school staff, and other adults in the community can help kids prevent bullying by talking about it, building a safe school environment, and creating a community-wide bullying prevention strategy.”
On Monday during community block, students and their advisor gathered in circles, greeted one another, shared how they were feeling after the weekend, and began a “Can We Talk?” discussion on what is considered mean behavior versus bullying and how to respond if we see it occurring. While these topics have been explored before and in a variety of venues, including chapel, previous advisory sessions, and in the context of classes, we believe that a kind, caring and loving community makes our students and the school stronger.
The activity began with students being asked to define mean behavior and bullying behavior. After a share out by students, advisors shared how we define bullying in the Middle School. For bullying, we ask three questions to help define the term. Is the behavior repeated? Is there an imbalance of power? Is there purpose or intent? The three questions are helpful in determining the difference between meanness and bullying. Mean behavior is unkind words and actions that do not answer yes to each question. To help students grasp these concepts, a few scenarios were discussed in circles to determine if the described event was meanness or bullying. In addition, advisors explored the roles we play, such as being an ally who stands up or speaks up, or a bystander who sees bullying occur and does not stand up or speak up on behalf of another person.
To complete today’s lesson in advisory, all students were asked to make one commitment to become an ally and to “choose kind.”