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Friday, August 07, 2009

Bystanders can help when bullying happens

If your children are neither bullies nor victims, there's still a strong possibility they can help reduce bullying at school. A well-reported article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution says it's a myth that bullying involves only the bully and the victim. The fact is that "the active involvement of bystanders frequently determines the nature, extent and outcome" of bullying behavior and incidents. The American Academy of Pediatrics says so. "In an updated policy published in the July issue of its journal, Pediatrics, the AAP ... said a European program that emphasizes the role of bystanders in preventing bullying in schools is a good model for US prevention efforts." It's referring to the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program, which "teaches children that bullies are kids with problems and bystanders can protect victims." Patti Agatston, a school counselor in the Atlanta area and co-author of cyberbullying prevention curricula for grades 3-5 and grades 6-12, told the Journal-Constitution that 21 Atlanta-area schools have used the Olweus training, which also demonstrates how t get parents and the community involved. I think we can put a serious dent in psychological, physical, and digital bullying (digital just being another medium for the psychological kind) if we give them "permission" to be bystanders who contribute to solutions – encourage them to be kind and help out peers who they can tell are in trouble. [For another holistic program that has been tested in the US and UK, see this about CAPSULE (for "Creating a Peaceful Learning Environment."]

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