October is bullying prevention month, and at Pine Glen, I've been doing many classroom lessons on what bullying is and what we can do as a community to stop it. Bullying looks different from one grade to the next, so I've been adapting lessons based on the grade.
In 2nd grade, we read the book "Bully B.E.A.N.S" by one of my favorite authors, Julia Cook. In the book, there is a bully named Bobbette who is always telling students what to do, what to say and where to go. She is especially mean to a boy named Winston. She forces Winston to do her homework for her, give her his lunch money and do other things for her. She threatens to "twist you into a pretzel" if you don't do what she asks. Students soon learn that Bobbette's older brother treats her the same way she treats others. They decide they need to stand up for themselves and Winston. One of the student's mothers suggest she use "bully beans" to empower herself to stand up to the bully. She says that when they eat the magical jelly beans, they will be give her power to stand up to Bobbette. Some of the ways the book talks about standing up to her are: ignore her, walk away, say "Stop!" or "Back off!"or ask an adult for help. When the students eat their bully beans and stand up to Bobbette, she is not only shocked, but she does back off. This was a wonderful lesson to remind students what bullying IS and also what we CAN do about it. I gave them each a few Bingo counters and we pretended they were our "bully beans" that gave us courage and we practiced using the strategies we learned about in the story. They had a lot of fun!
In 4th grade, we had an in-depth discussion about the difference between teasing, a conflict, a mean moment and bullying. We discussed that there is a difference in power and there are different solutions to address each issue. We then watched a very powerful video on YouTube which showed a group of 6th grade students acting out a bullying situation. The video shows the impact of words on others, what a bystander is and how we can all help put a stop to bullying by being an "upstander" instead of a "bystander." An upstander doesn't just sit by when they notice bullying going on. They use a strategy to help the victim. They learned they can ignore the bully and ask the victim to play with them, they can speak up to the bully or they can ask an adult for help. Students did a great job contributing to this valuable discussion and seemed to really be impacted by the video.
Lastly, I began discussing another form of bullying with 5th grade. We discussed what cyber-bullying and how it is different than other forms of bullying. We learned that it is done strictly through electronic means/devices. We also learned that it can happen 24/7 anywhere, it can happen anonymously and that it can be very hard for a cyber bully to get rid of their evidence. Some immediate solutions we learned about were to not engage with the bully, to block/report them, and that we can save evidence from the online bullying to show to an adult. We can report any form of online bullying to an adult at school, home or someone in the community (i.e. police). We also discussed ways to stay safe online. Students were very engaged and had some thoughtful contributions to the discussion.
If you would like to continue the discussion of staying safe online with your child, feel free to to look into Common Sense Media, a great resource for learning about online safety:
Until next time,