Speaking Out Against School Bullying
What does it take to successfully move a bully or those who prey on children out of a school setting? Certainly its hard to get to them in a cruel and public fashion, but we also should not forget that more often than not when a school culture is changed, the problem will subside in a few days or weeks. We have to help bring about the change, however, and we certainly need the help of good old fashioned Boy Scout youth involvement!
Schools dealing with bullying can no longer afford to rely on beatings from the school police chief, bullying/harassment from the school principal or shaking fists from the teacher when bullies commit crimes against children. In many cases, they take their aggression to another level and engage in illegal acts like luring children into dangerous situations like runaways or home invasions, hiding them under the covers, where they either get beaten up and then run off, or worse yet they use violent acts to intimidate and silence a child who wants to leave that abusive situation or seek help. In both cases, the person(s) responsible for the crime has to be held accountable and held accountable severely.
The bully is often the perpetrator of multiple crimes against children in many different ways, and we need to apply a simple justice system to match their criminal responsibility. That’s why BCSB encourages our youth volunteers to participate and speak out on behalf of victimized children. If we engage our youth members and they have the voice, they are much more likely to be heard and help to convince the bullies that bullying is bad and there will be significant consequences for their actions. As we have mentioned in the past, BCSB has developed a Wellbeing Champions, defined as those persons who contribute to positive school culture by raising awareness of youth issues and working towards positive change. Furthermore, the Wellbeing Champions bring the influence of the student population to bear on school leaders and cause them to be more cognizant of, and as a result more vigilant against bullying and harassment.
Why does BCSB believe such strong youth involvement is key in shaping an acceptable school culture? BCSB strongly believes that youth involvement is one of the mainstays of a school’s stability, growth and support, and it is without question a long-term commitment that is needed for good schools. Further, if we do not engage our youth in situations that will create change for their classmates, then the relationship between schools and youth will be clearly eroded. By engaging in projects that promote kindness, empathy and community service, our youth will have an effective way to contribute to school projects and to their school districts and school communities, which will come in handy when they are in their senior years and they want to apply their high school experience to supporting a positive change in the larger world. It is also a great way for them to learn more about the behind-the-scenes workings of their school and to be exposed to the many people who make a difference every day. Additionally, it is also a great way for them to make new and lasting connections with people in the community and in the schools and to see that kids have the capacity to make a difference in the world and that they have plenty of knowledge and understanding to contribute to the greater good.
The role of students can be greatly enhanced by increasing and validating students’ voices in the classroom, on campus and in the school community. The most effective way to do this is to place the voice of students first in all school projects and to let students know that their perceptions are valued and that they are heard. A positive school culture is all about empowering student voices and the student voice is easily heard at BCSB’s headquarters in Peoria, Illinois. It’s also a powerful way to encourage youth volunteers in their local school, where a commitment to proactive approach can help to create positive change.