Bullying for Bystanders
We are in the middle of showing the wonderful “Dateline” bullying video clips to the entire school once a week. Then kids get asked to reflect with a short bit of writing. You know the usual ‘let’s do good to the kids’ assembly and the disengagement when they feel that. This is really different. It’s a similar vibe in my 8th grade class room to “Mean Girls“. We were going to show the 6 clips a month apart but students were so hooked in by the first clip we had to do it weekly. How cool is that?
The wiff of truth being spoken and acknowledged, packaged with the incredibly hopeful message: that bystanders can say something during a bullying interaction and stand up for the victim. Or if that’s too scary, they can at least say something to the victim afterwards. It really can tip the water in the social tray and make a huge difference to a victim of a ‘joke’. Here’s the links to the clips we used: Dateline Bullying Clip 1 of 6 and you can find the others easily on YouTube.
From scanning what my 1st period class wrote, I saw some incredibly insightful, honest and gracefully expressed reflections about how they wanted to help other people and how it’s really scary, that adults don’t understand the risk of trying to stand up to a bully. And of course, other kids who blew it off, sometimes exactly those kids that I suspect might be ring leaders, maybe kids who didn’t trust that what they wrote would remain private.
After the video, some of my girls were asking if we (the adults) thought that bullying was especially severe at our school and I picked up that they felt a bit protective about our school community. They were so surprised to hear the bullying goes on amongst adults too, in the work place, between friends etc., and that bullying is a natural thing to happen: pecking orders in chicken and horse society etc. But that doesn’t make it right or good.
So fun to have a moment of honest interaction with them. The whole atmosphere in first period is more relaxed and friendly. So thank you to our admin and counselors for prioritizing this vital topic and spinning it with hope and honesty.