When children do not feel safe, it makes it almost impossible for them to learn in the classroom. While creating a culture of peace is our goal, the day to day situations in the interim must be dealt with by each individual teacher and parent.
With so many children targeted by bullying, we many times have focused on the vulnerabily of certain children. Are they quiet or reserved, is there a difference with them (glasses, physical, learning etc..) do they have a need to be popular, are they overweight or not good at sports, speech impediment, or may be aggressive toward others? All of these children are vulnerable to being the target of bullying.
Those same children though have strengths that can be built on that would enable them to be resilient and cope with bullying situations, while the teacher and parents are working on building a culture in the home and classroom that creates a kind and peaceful atmosphere. When you consider a child who is vulnerable, also ask yourself what their strengths are. How might they use those strengths, how can we build the child’s resilience? Then most important is who can be a part of the support network for each of those kids?
It may be certain positive peers who can be there for them. A guidance counselor or other teacher in the school may be a part of the network. How can parents be helped to learn how to help their child grow their resilience? This network around any vulnerable child is the key to reducing the chance that they will become targets or victims of bullying.
While we are doing this with individual children – every classroom and home should consider the 3 step process for changing culture in their community.
- Step one is to set the expectations for the behavior and attitude for all in the community.
- Step two is to role model what those expectations look like for all others in the community.
- Step three is to teach – talk about the expectations on a daily basis. This is always done when there are no emotions involved. It should be mirrored by all in the community, every teacher, every parent, every coach on a daily basis.
These 3 steps will help everyone involve to get a clear picture and develop the peace we all want in our family, schools and community.