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Finding Common Ground

A former K-5 public school principal turned author, presenter, and leadership coach, DeWitt provides insights and advice for education leaders. He can be found at www.petermdewitt.com. Read more from this blog.

Education Opinion

How Do We Get Students to Stand Up for Each Other?

By Peter DeWitt — September 15, 2015 3 min read
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1 in 4 teachers see nothing wrong with bullying and will only intervene 4% of the time.” DoSomething.org

There is so much that goes on in the lives of our students each day that we do not see. There is the world that we, as educators, see when we work with them side-by-side, but in the unstructured times there is a lot that goes on. This is not a surprise for us. After all, we all grew up trying to hide things from our parents. We worked hard to fit in with the “in-crowd” until we decided it wasn’t worth the time and effort.

One of the issues that is typically hidden from adults is bullying. Bullying takes place in hallways, out at the playground or on the bus, and now because of social media and 24/7 connections, it happens at any time during the day.

According to DoSomething.orgOver 3.2 million students get bullied each year” and “Approximately 160,000 teens skip school every day because of bullying.” What’s even more disturbing is that DoSomething suggests that “1 in 4 teachers see nothing wrong with bullying and will only intervene 4% of the time.”

1 in 4...

We need to be able to provide the bullied with a voice so they don’t have to endure it any longer. And we need to empower all of our students to stand up for others when those being bullied do not feel as though they have the strength to do it. This is where social media comes in for a good reason.

Using Social Media For Positive Interactions!

Blogging is a powerful way to connect with people from around the world. With an increase use in social media, our ability to connect is easier than ever. At our fingertips we have the opportunity to connect to a group of like-minded individuals, or to individuals who will help stretch our thinking.

When we read the writing of someone who taps into our senses and those words get us to think about things for the first time or things we have long forgotten, we can truly be inspired. This doesn’t necessarily mean reading the words of adults. Our students can certainly get us thinking, and blogging provides a powerful tool for them to share their feelings and connect with others.

Next month the Tony Blair Faith Foundation and the National School Climate Center are asking students and teachers to use social media for positive reasons during National Bullying Prevention Month. According to the websites of both organizations,

In a series of four interactive lessons students will gain deeper understanding of the scale and breadth of mean, cruel and/or bullying behavior as well as what they can do to be Upstanders - or socially responsible -- in their school communities.

The websites say,

Through videoconferences and team blogging, they will have the opportunity to dialogue with their global peers around questions such as why others act in mean, cruel and bullying ways, why it is important that all people are valued in a community and how students can make a positive difference as in their school and community.

As we know already, social media issues can go viral. What may start as a virtual conversation between a small group of students during these sessions sponsored by both organizations, we know that those students involved can pay it forward and have an impact on their peers and teachers in a variety of ways. Perhaps they can even start a movement to help combat some of the sad statistics that were reported by DoSomething.org.

In the End

Bullying is a complicated topic because some people believe it’s a rite of passage for students. After all, we have all experienced bullying in some way and we turned out fine. However, we also understand that not all students have the resilience to withstand the bullying their endure, and they need others to help support them.

Although the blogging and conferencing will take place during Bullying Prevention Month, the hope and goal of the program is to make students feel empowered during those months when bullying is not the central theme of a month. Maybe, just maybe, it will help inspire students to stand up for one another.

Videoconference Dates:

  • October 27 (ages 15+) 1 a.m., 7 a.m., 12 p.m. and 6 p.m. (All times are GMT)
  • October 29 (ages 12-14) 1 a.m., 7 a.m., 12 p.m. and 6 p.m. (All times are GMT Team )

Register for the event here.

Blogging Dates: October 12 -23

For more information:

Kristen Looney, Head of Programs and Partnerships, Tony Blair Faith Foundation US Kristen.Looney@tonyblairfaithfoundation.org

Jonathan Cohen, President, National School Climate Center jonathancohen@schoolclimate.org

Connect with Peter on Twitter.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of 24 Students.

The opinions expressed in Peter DeWitt’s Finding Common Ground are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.