We hear more and more of anti-bullying programs in the schools. Programs that concentrate on ending a negative, don’t work until that negative is replaced by something better. Instead of zero tolerance for bullying as many schools have signs throughout their hallways, begin programs that create the antithesis to bullying. Look to create an environment in school where respect, caring, kindness and courage represents the character of the school. You may have all seen that character commercial a little while back where a high school student walks through a hallway and someone comes up to him and knocks the books out of his hands. Then the student in the letterman’s jacket, talking to a bunch of other apparent athletes and female students, excuses himself from his group to come and ask the bully victim if he’s alright and stoops down and helps him pick up his books. When that kind of behavior is rewarded,you start building a character of a school where that kind of behavior is repeated more often.
Bullying often happens through ignorance. Gender bullying happens because students may have seen degrading talk to opposite genders in their home and thought it was perfectly normal to talk like that. Racial or ethnic bullying happens when students hear their parent or others they are around use derogatory names and think that is normal talk. When students disrespect others on the basis of gender, race, or ethnicity or any other prejudice, they need to be taught about the culture they are ignorant of. Schools should employ their counselors to run sensitivity awareness counseling groups to educate students about student differences and the value of diversity.
One of the planks of my platform in my campaign for school board is gender, racial, ethnic, and religious cultural awareness counseling programs. in this age where groups are being talked about with such generalities, and often inaccurate generalities schools can use prejudice acts as “a teachable moment” to help students understand each other more.
If schools were to create programs that honored acts of caring and kindness, rewarded students and/or who spoke up when they saw students mistreating and disrespecting classmates, they would go a long way toward teaching citizenship. The students would become productive members of society. Lets join together to make this a national movement in our schools. Caring kindness and respect and courage in to push bullying behaviors out.