Tough to believe the summer is already behind us and a new school year is underway. Unfortunately, for some students, a return to school is a return to anxiety and stressful bully situations. Ben is always encouraging students and teachers alike to be aware and to be willing to get involved when we see bully behavior.
While many school systems have a no tolerance policy with regard to bullying, and most states have anti-bully legislation, they can never replace personal accountability and on the ground enforcement. In an effort to reduce bully behavior this school year, consider doing a few things listed here to improve awareness.
1. Spark conversation by having students create a bully-free bulletin board or entry-way into the school.
2. Make sure all school faculty have access to intervention training and cross-departmental support for challenging situations.
3. Create a safe harbor location with trained staff available to offer students support. Make sure there is a person students can talk to about being bullied, receiving council that will respect their privacy.
4. Host an anti-bully night. Invite families and local leadership to discuss bully issues and to make a strong, unified statement that bully behavior is not acceptable in your community.
5. Create a local anti-bully task force that includes parents, students, and faculty. Assess your school's anti-bully environment and have the task force make recommendations for improvement.
6. Consider having Ben come to your school after reading "Touching Spirit Bear" and follow up with a pro-acceptance campaign.
7. Put together a role play opportunity for students to express times when they were bullied and alternatives to how the interaction should have happened without bully behavior. Discuss what is considered bully behavior