Bullying has become a major area of concern for schools across the country. The problem is not just in Middle schools and High Schools, but in elementary schools as well. Many states and districts have taken active roles by requiring schools to include "no bullying" messages into their curriculum. Illinois has been particularly proactive in No Bullying school programs. This article offers advice and guidance for Illinois schools and schools across the United States who want their schools to be "No Bully Zones"
There are three keys to a successful anti-bullying program.
- Start early.
- Engage students in the message.
- Keep the message in front of students.
1. Start Early
It is never too early to begin teaching children about why you don’t want to be a bully and what to do if you they are getting bullied. There are many books with no Bullying messages that are good for "story time" and bedtime reading for pre-school and kindergarten age students. Suggestions of good early-reading books with no Bully messages are:
- The Berenstain Bears and the Bully
- The Bully Blockers Club
- The Tale of Sir Dragon
All of the above books are available from local bookstores or online stores, such as Amazon.com.
Lower elementary students should never be fully excluded from any type of in school bully program. Kindergarten students may not fully comprehend the full message of No Bully assembly, but there will be important parts that they will understand and take away with them. Young students may not be able to participate in all the activities of a school-wide No Bullying project, but there should still be specific goals and tasks designed for them to complete.
2. Engage Students
Bullying can be a hard concept for younger students to grasp, as bullying can take on many forms. Students may not even realize that certain actions and interactions with their fellow classmates may be considered bullying. The best way for students to understand and retain the message of what makes a bully is to engage them in discussion and discovery.
No Bullying / No Bullies school assemblies are a very good way to engage students in an anti bullying message.
The purpose of bringing in a no bully school assembly program to your Illinois school is to be able to present your students with the no bullying message in a different way from how they have already heard it. You don’t want an assembly presenter who just lectures and talks to the kids, they get this in the classroom. A truly effective No Bullies school assembly program blends no bully themes with entertainment elements, such as comedy, skits, music, and visual aides. The themes of a No Bullying assembly may include respecting yourself, dealing with anger, conflict resolution, and making choices. All of these themes can be tied back into a general "No Bullying" message.
A No Bullies school assembly also gives your students a chance hear a no bullying message as a whole school. Younger students can see that older students are hearing the same message as them. Having your entire school community together to experience a no bullying program can be very powerful.
It is important to remember too that Illinois offers grants for No Bullying Assemblies and enrichment programs. Check to see if your school may qualify.
3. Keep The Message in Front of Students
A No Bullying message should not be limited to a one-time assembly or classroom discussion. There should be ongoing school projects and reminders to keep students involved in a No Bullying message. Some projects and activities that students can participate in as a class, grade level, or whole school include:
- Making posters or banners with "No Bullying" messages and images created by students.
- Putting on a short "play" or skit about bullies
- Include a short positive character story or message in daily announcements
- Make a special display of books with Bullying themes for your school media center
- Have a sign to remind students that they are in a "No Bullying Zone"
- Set up a peer mediation group to help deal with conflict resolution.
By starting early and reinforcing the importance of Bully Prevention, elementary schools can help give students social skills that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives.
A list of recommended No Bully School Assemblies can be found at http://www.michiganschoolshows.com
Our school entertainers have presented over 10,000 "No Bullies" school assemblies since 1998. Discounts for Anti-Bullying programs for Illinois and Ohio schools are available. Illinois Bully assembly Program grant information is also available for select assemblies. Help turn your school into a "Bully Free Zone".
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