Combat Bullying: It’s National Bullying Prevention Month
The numbers are telling: more than one in five students say they’ve been bullied at school. Thanks to higher awareness and effective anti-bullying programs, bullying prevalence rates have been dropping over the past several years, but we still have a long way to go before all kids feel safe, included and respected.
October is National Bullying Prevention Month, so let’s keep highlighting solutions to keep our kids safe. Unfortunately, the impact of bullying doesn’t stop when an incident ends. Kids who are bullied face long-term effects, including anxiety, depression, and trouble with school and sleep.
And the young people doing the bullying hurt as well: Bullies are at higher risk for substance abuse and academic difficulties.
This is why Camp Fire developed an entire conflict resolution curriculum to teach kids how to process emotion, talk about disagreements, brainstorm win-win solutions and create peace.
This is deep stuff! The skills Camp Fire teaches not only give young people powerful tools to confront bullying but, even more importantly, address its root causes.
Kids experience a profound amount of daily stressors, including their lights being turned off, homelessness, exposure to violence, hunger, and neglect. And many also face systemic barriers (economic, racial, gender, cultural, social) that add to the pressure.
“When you add these traumatic situations into a child’s life, they do not have the resources, skills, expertise or support to work their emotion or feelings out,” said Camp Fire Heartland Program Manager Stephanie Todd. “Unfortunately, many turn to bullying their peers.”
Creating a safe, nonjudgmental environment for kids to share their thoughts and feelings is why Camp Fire created a conflict resolution curriculum. Youth today need more opportunities to cultivate understanding, manage difficult situations, learn from mistakes, and learn to respect differences. This program builds stress-management super-powers and teaches kids that conflict can be positive when handled in a healthy way.
Camp Fire Heartland tested the program for the past six years in Kansas City, Mo., with outstanding results: 100 percent of the participating teachers said they believed it was relevant for their students, and 94 percent said that the curriculum was effective and filled a need in their schools. Nearly half said they saw decreases in bullying reports!
The curriculum was rolled out nationally to Camp Fire’s 53 councils in 2018. All councils now have access to the comprehensive curriculum, which is split into three levels (K-1st grade, 2nd-3rd grade, and upper elementary).
“Bullying is the result of a youth working to solve their social problems in a negative way,” Todd explains. “Given the opportunity to express themselves and absorb new techniques to deal with bullying, unexpected family circumstances, and their surrounding environments, youth are less likely to bully others and more likely to speak out when they seeing bullying taking place.”