It Takes a Community
By: Safe Start Center
Over the past month, we’ve highlighted what bullying means, heard the stories of countless people, covered what others are saying about it, and provided ways practitioners, teachers, and parents can help. In this, our last post, we would like to talk about the common wisdom, “it takes a community.” As can be seen by the variety of topics we covered this month, the effort to end bullying must a combined effort, everyone working TOGETHER.
In order for you to take action, look into what your state and local laws are about bullying. Many states, such as Connecticut and New Jersey, are not only creating new laws to increase enforcement but are also instituting their own Bully Awareness campaigns and curriculums to equip their schools to deal with the growing problem. Likewise, school administrators and teachers must first take part by enforcing these policies through role modeling and encouragement, and ask the same of their students. Second, they must become aware of the signs and symptoms of bullying and seek to eliminate them on the spot. This could include knowing the “hot spots” around the school and posting teachers in them during break times.
However, bullying doesn’t just happen in school – it happens in parks, in malls, and now on the Internet – any and everywhere there are children and youth. This means that parents must also be vigilant in helping their children cope and deal with bullying under a variety of circumstances. Parents also need to be aware of and take responsibility for their children’s actions when they are the “bullies.” Awareness is the first step, and like teachers, parents need to be both role models and to teach their kids to respect themselves and others.
Most importantly, putting an end to bullying is about equipping children to deal with problems when they arise by creating safe and encouraging environments for them at home, in school, and their communities. It is also about empowering them to confront or respond to it in their own individual ways. We’ve seen this happen because of the kids that have started support groups, awareness events, held town halls, and supported their classmates who have been bullied. When students feel safe in being who they are and learn to deal with others in a respectful way, that’s when bullying will really begin to stop. And this is what we must do – work for and with children to become the best they can be.
The Safe Start Center, along with many other partners in the field, will continue to call attention to the problem of bullying. For decades, there have been ebbs and flows in bullying awareness, but today there is a new and more dangerous tool for bullies – the Internet. But as we have seen this month, the Internet can also be used for good to help address bullying, raise awareness, and showcase the different gifts and skills of those who seek to lend their voice to the movement. Each of us – policymakers, teachers, parents, students – need to take a stand at every level and across sectors; to empowering students to start legislative campaigns, PSAs, stories, documentaries, dances; to be innovative and work together to address bullying and help those involved.
Writer Charlzetta Drive said it well. “Let’s teach our children that different is not a bad word, this will help them understand first they don’t have to change for anyone and second no one has to change for them. Being comfortable in his or her own skin, children are less likely to submit to major transgressions due to peer pressure. Different does not mean alone, bringing our differences together makes for a huge palate of enriching colors.”
Thanks so much for all of you who have followed us throughout this month as well as all those who have conducted their own campaigns, hosted events, made videos, wrote articles and many other things to raise awareness and stop bullying!