Four ways to prevent bullying on our playgrounds before it starts.

This October is National Bullying Prevention Month. This is a month to focus on the skills we can develop in children to create safe, welcoming schools and communities.

More than 3.2 million students are victims of bullying each year. And bullying and name-calling occurs more often on elementary school playgrounds than any other place in school, including lunchrooms and hallways.1

No child should ever feel singled out by teasing or bullying. In order to prevent bullying, we all must take steps to make recess a safe space. We can do this by using play and games to make playground a place where every child feels welcome.

At Playworks, we believe in the power of play to bring out the best in every kid. We use play to develop an inclusive environment. In randomized control studied by researchers at Stanford and Mathematica Policy Research, and schools with our program had significantly 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.

Every school can use play to develop a safe, inclusive recess that is free from bullying and teasing. Here are some ideas to your school community started.

Five ways to prevent bullying on our playgrounds

  • 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 occurs in their community. Children are your best tools and resources to creating a culture that does not accept bullying.

  • Train recess staff. Teach your playground supervisors fun games, healthy systems and positive group management techniques will to help you develop a recess that is safe and inclusive. At Playworks, our rock star trainers provide professional development and consultative services to schools looking to make recess active, inclusive and free from bullying.

How do you prevent bullying in your school?

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