Stand Up, Speak Up: Dealing with Teasing and Bullying
By Michel Thibeault, Panyaden Head Teacher
Is my child facing aggression? Is he witnessing other kids being aggressed? Is he a bully? Questions we all have as parents and that need to be answered. It’s time for our annual anti-bullying campaign: November is “Stand Up and Speak Up” month. Classroom and playground disruptive, inappropriate and bullying behaviours are a reality all schools must face and manage. At Panyaden, we use the following tools:
• Code of Conduct
• Annual anti-bullying campaign (Stand Up, Speak Up)
• Set of intervention steps
Code of Conduct
The Panyaden Code of Conduct is rooted in the fact that ultimately, we’re the only ones who can control our own behaviour. That’s why we avoid punishment and rely on consequences. Punishment relies on external judgment, aims at getting compliance and is intended to make the child feel bad; we know it ‘works’ because fear can act as a strong motivator. Unfortunately, the main outcome of this approach is likely to be refined skills in avoiding getting caught! Long-term, the results are likely to be either passive dependence or out-and-out rebellion.
Consequences rely on reflection and aim at developing the skills needed to make better decisions in similar situations in the future. Empowering the students instead of demanding compliance prepares them to resist negative peer pressure. The ultimate goal therefore is self-discipline. By teaching students to control themselves instead of simply making them obey, they are more likely to make their own decisions when, as often happens during teenage years, they are subject to potentially negative influences by peers who would like them to obey the gang’s rules!
Annual anti-bullying campaign
Panyaden’s annual Stand Up, Speak Up campaign has three main goals:
1. Making students aware of the various types and conflicts we might face;
2. Develop an understanding of the inner dynamic of a bullying situation and the roles played by the bully, the bullied and the bystanders;
3. Equip students with tools to deal with any kind of conflict.
Our approach is based on the understanding that bullying is a conscious, wilful and deliberate activity intended to harm, induce fear through the threat of further aggression and create terror (Barbara Coloroso: ‘The Bully, the Bullied and the Bystander’). At school, students examine bullying from the perspective of everyone involved. They are taught to stand up for themselves if they are bullied and also to seek help from an adult if this is not enough to stop the bullying. Students learn about the role of the bystanders and the difference between ‘telling on your friends’ and speaking up to support someone being bullied. Students learn that both the bullied and the bully need help to change their behaviour and that people who are bullied can also be bullying other people.
Set of intervention steps
||Disruption Management Steps
||Teacher communicates to the student that his/her behaviour is inappropriate.
||1-to-1 meeting between teacher and student and informal action plan
||Teacher takes the student aside, discusses the inappropriate behaviour.
They build a shared understanding of expectations. They brainstorm ideas about how best to meet them.
||First level involvement of parents
||Teacher contacts home for parental support and awareness: verbally at the gate or via the communication book.
||Consultation with all relevant teachers and Head Teachers
||Homeroom teachers, specialist teachers and Head Teachers share ideas and agree strategies.
||Second level involvement of parents: School-based Team Meeting
||Parents, homeroom teachers and Head Teachers meet and agree on a behaviour plan or course of action. The student is invited to join the end of the meeting to be shown the plan and understand its purpose.
Summary of meeting is sent to all participants.
Teachers implement the behaviour plan.
Follow up meeting with parents.
||Suspension at school’s discretion
||If the behaviour modification plan does not yield the desired results, more extreme measures will be taken.
Children come to school to not only learn all the core subjects but also to learn how to behave in society. To master this they require practice, trial and error, and time. It’s the synergy and alignment of families and school efforts that yield the best benefits. If you ever have concerns about your child or the way things are done at school, please talk to your child’s teachers and to the Head Teachers.