No child should have to experience bullying at school or at home. In order to end these stories, we must both put a stop to bullying when it occurs and stop bullying before it even starts.
As parents, educators, and students, we can develop schools and communities in which everyone feels safe, every kid feels included, and no child to ever feel singled out by teasing or bullying. This requires a cultural shift–one in which entire communities must participate.
Playworks was rigorously studied by researchers at Stanford and Mathematica Policy Research, and schools with our program were proven to have less bullying than at schools without. Although Playworks is not an anti-bullying program per se, the culture at our partner schools stops bullying before it starts.
Here are four proactive approaches to prevent bullying that we see working on our playgrounds every day…
- Teach Empathy. Children who understand their own emotions are better able to control their reactions. Children who understand others’ emotions are better able to comfort their peers or avoid hurting others in the first place.
- Encourage positive attitudes. By modeling and encouraging positivity, you can create a positive culture. Smile. Pass out high fives and fist bumps. Notice what others do well out loud, such as be saying great kick, James or I saw you tried your hardest, Allie.
- Create an inclusive community. Challenge your community to work together as a team rather than compete to be the best. When creating teams, do so in a fair manner. Never call out or exclude individuals for their race, gender, ethnicity or ability.
- Develop youth leaders. There are multiple reasons to develop leaders. First, youth who exhibit bullying behavior respond well to personal attention and accountability to make their environment better. Second, youth know best when, where and how bullying and teasing occur in their community. Children are your best tools and resources to creating a culture that does not accept bullying.
How do you prevent bullying?