Monday, June 6, 2011

Getting a Jump on the New Anti-Bullying Law

I just spent two days working with staff and students at Veteran's Memorial School in Union City, NJ, where dynamic principal, Catalina Tomargo, decided to start now in preparing her school for New Jersey's Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights, set to go into effect on September 1, 2011. One of the most comprehensive in the nation, this law requires that all New Jersey schools have programs and procedures in place to address and prevent bullying for the coming school year.

We started by looking at the issues of conflict, anger, and name-calling, then we started exploring ways to get kids involved in school-wide sustainable efforts to stamp out bullying, which we'll continue to address in the fall.

After working with teachers, I visited many of the classes where we discussed the devastating impact of mean words and malicious put-downs. The kids spoke with great honesty, and admitted that no matter who you are, being called mean names cuts to the core. Many said that being the target of mean words made them feel humiliated, depressed, angry, and more. The pain in many of their faces was visible as they spoke.

We also talked about how important it is for every single one of us to be part of the solution to bullying and mean behavior. This is critical, especially in light of new data suggesting that one of the keys to reducing bullying in schools is making kids part of the solution. I'll be writing more about this in my next post.

Taking the bull by the horns, staff and students at Veteran's Memorial are already taking steps to reduce bullying and mean behavior for the upcoming year. Here are some of the wonderful anti-bullying posters the kids made to kick things off:

by Jean and Neurys

By Mayra and Kiara

What is your school doing to reduce bullying? To comment, e-mail or click on the word “comments” below. Write your comment in the box, then click on “Select profile . . .” If the top group of options doesn’t apply to you, select “Name/URL” to comment with your name (you can leave the URL part blank), or select “Anonymous.”

1 comment:

  1. Great blog - thanks for the useful information! Are our school, we use a Talk, Walk, Tell strategy . . . .during the Talk they are encouraged to use square breathing and self-talk while they ask the student with bullying, teasing, or demeaning behaviors to stop. If that is unsuccessful, we encourage them to walk away, preferably in the direction of a trusted adult in case they're at a point where they need to report.

    This spring we gave out bookmarks with the strategy - those are available for download at this page under the header Bully Busters:

    After a guidance lesson this March using the amazing new book Bird Child by Nan Forler, we learned the lyrics I wrote to the Chicken Dance music to help them remember:

    Chorus: If a bully bothers you, and you don't know what to do, out at recess or in school - Talk, Walk, then Tell. (clap 4 times, repeat 4 times)
    Verse: I'll be a buddy, not a bully. I'll be a friend and take a stand. I can swarm or go get a grown up, so we can all lend a helping hand.