Bullying, unfortunately, is in our schools, clubs, and even our camps. It is very hurtful and destructive for the person being bullied and is destructive to those kids who are doing the bullying. How can we stop it when it is happening at our camp? How can we try to prevent it?
There is not a simple answer to those questions, or a simple solution to the problem of bullying. It takes an effort from all of us to prevent and stop bullying in our schools, sports teams, programs, camps, and in our communities. Everyone has a role to play in making these places hopeful and happy places to be!
The Government of Alberta has adapted some information from “The Heart of the Matter”, a publication regarding bullying published by Alberta Education and the Council for Exceptional Children, and created some great advice for adopting an effective bullying prevention approach. Although the information has more of a ‘school and community’ focus, we can use the information and apply it to circumstances that could occur at our camps and within our organizations.
An effective bullying prevention approach is one that:
Emphasizes a shared responsibility for preventing and dealing with bullying. Bullying is everyone’s business and it will take an ongoing community effort to stop it.
Assesses the scope and nature of bullying behaviors in your school or community. Do an anonymous questionnaire. Use the findings to pin point or discover problems and to gather future information.
Focuses on changing the social environment. People must notice when a child is bullied or left out and find ways of changing attitudes and behaviours about bullying in their daily lives. Bullying is not a normal part of growing up.
Builds support for bully prevention. Bullying prevention should not be the sole responsibility of one person. Work with members of the community, school, or organization to ensure everyone is on board with the anti-bullying approach. Even the involvement of children and youth is an important part of identifying effective approaches for dealing with bullying.
Is a coordinated, intentional approach. Form a group to coordinate bully prevention activities and meet regularly to sustain momentum.
Builds a school, organization, or community wide understanding of bullying prevention. Training of staff and team members will help everyone to understand prevention, intervention, the nature of bullying, it effects, and how to respond to it when they see it.
Uses positive and appropriate language. Positive language will give people examples of how to respond to bullying situations.
Establishes and enforces rules and policies related to bullying. Developing, posting, or publishing clear rules about bullying within your organization, school, and community will make sure children are aware of the expectation to refrain from bullying and to help those who are bullied.
Increases adult supervision in hot spots where bullying occurs. Bullying usually thrives in certain locations where adults are not present. Identify these locations when you do the questionnaire at the beginning of this process. Look for ways you can increase supervision or adult presence in these areas.
Intervenes consistently and appropriately in bullying situations. Intervene immediately when bullying occurs and is spotted. Have people designated to hold sensitive follow-up meetings with kids who are bullied and then separately with those who are the bully.
Teaches and reinforces specific skills in preventing and stopping bullying behaviours. Children and youth themselves need to learn how to prevent, stand up to, and stop bullying. As they learn these skills, they gain confidence to deal with bullying situations.
Continues these efforts over time. There should be no end date for a bullying prevention program or approach. They should be regularly reviewed and evaluated for effectiveness in changing behaviors and adjusted accordingly.
Effective Assessment of a Bullying Prevention Initiative
Assessments are the starting point for understanding the nature and extent of bullying problems. Try to address the following issues:
Bullying is a relationship problem. Focusing only on the child who is being bullied, or only on the child who is bullying is not enough – you must include other children who may have witnessed the bullying and peers, parents, other adults, and communities who have involvement.
Assessment of bullying problems requires a focus on children’s development. Bullying changes as children grow older and it can be different between boys and girls. Make sure you pay attention to children’s different developmental needs and capacities.
Adult leadership is the foundation for addressing bullying problems. Adults need to understand bullying problems and their significance, and any adult leaders are responsible to ensure that the commitment, communications and resources are provided.
Resources and Fact Sheet for Children
Meet the S-Team! S stands for Self Power!
Dakota, Tina, Michael, and Kiara are elementary school kids and Eric is one of their teachers. They love playing sports and taking part in fun activities like collecting stamps and flying kites but there’s one thing they don’t like and that’s bullying!
This dynamic cartoon team helps kids learn about their own self power. Kids can be a member of the S-Team Heroes. They can learn about doing the right thing when it comes to bullying, that it is difficult but everyone has the power to stop bullying and be an S-Team Hero!
This website, www.teamheroes.ca
gives kids fun and interactive information about bullying, preventing it, stopping it, and how they can be prepared for it. On the website they can play games, enter contests, and get free image downloads of the S-Team.
Download the S-TEAM FACT SHEET for children regarding bullying.