Address harassment and prevent bullying through positive power
- Build awareness - what's going on?
Middle schoolers in a number of schools have surveyed their classmates on the frequency, types, locations, and apparent causes of bullying in their school. They then shared their findings with classmates, teachers, and administrators.
High school students create a true-life video about bullying and harassment in their school, to be shown at an all-school assembly. With a video camera, the students approach peers in the hall, ask if they have ever been bullied or harassed, and film the response.
- Build empathy - getting past ourselves
Teams of middle schoolers each created a character, whom they named, to portray "the bullied," "the bully," and "the bystander." They drew that character on a large sheet of paper, then filled their drawing with words for the feelings that person would have. Some feeling words - such as "afraid" for the bully - were surprising.
After reading The Revealers, eighth graders write, perform, and videotape screenplays they have created about bullying incidents. One group of "tough," athletic boys creates and films a story about a student with cerebral palsy who is harassed. They cast a fellow student who has CP in the starring role. "When we screened that piece, you could have heard a pin drop,"their teacher says.
- Build leadership - positive power
In many middle schools, peer mentoring programs - through which students receive training in resolving disputes, supporting younger students, and/or becoming available listeners and advocates for students in difficulty - are proving to be very useful ways to help students both discover their own positive power and model it for others.
A group of middle schoolers helps a faculty committee organize and publicize an afternoon conference - modeled on adult conferences - about ways to end bullying and harassment. A keynote speaker gives a talk; then students choose from a menu of practical workshops, led by qualified adult volunteers from the community, on subjects such as cliques, leadership, stereotypes, nonviolent communication, stress management, relationships.
- Build connectedness - no more loneliness
One middle school runs a peer mentoring program, where older students are paired with younger students; a school-wide mentoring program, where students are matched with adults in the community, to spend one hour a week together; and small friendship groups, facilitated by the school counselors, for kids who are having trouble making and/or keeping friends.
One Student Council creates this plan for "Mix-It-Up Day," Nov. 15: At lunch, students are randomly assigned to tables. Each student is given a piece of paper and asked to write one thing about them that not everyone knows. The papers are folded and tossed in a pile on the table. Each student picks out a paper (not their own), and asks his/her tablemates questions - without using any of the words on the note. After 15 minutes, each person guesses the identity of his/her note-writer. The table with the largest number of correct guesses wins a prize.