How to use social and emotional learning to stop bullying

Betty Ray Director of Programming and Innovation @Edutopia

I've been haunted by this story of the South Hadley High School girl who hung herself after 3 months of relentless bullying by her peers. Yesterday, prosecutors announced that nine students were charged with multiple felonies - felonies! The NYTimes story below suggests that this unusually sharp legal response is designed to send a message that bullying - both online and offline - won't be tolerated.

We assembled a number of links to help parents, educators and lawmakers in creating a proactive approach to bullying in our schools. If you know of any others, please add them!

Michael Pritchard's Lessons from the Heart video:
Combining humor and honesty, Pritchard speaks to schools about the effects of bullying and invites kids to share their experiences and insights. It's amazing to watch, esp when he takes his presentations to a tough crowd of urban high school kids.

Emotional Intelligence Overview video:
A good overview including examples of programs that teach emotional intelligence - from high school, middle school and elementary schools. Features interviews with Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence and Edutopia blogger, Maurice Elias.

Resolving Conflict Creatively Program
Educating the heart is teaching a skill, a tool, to help us solve problems. The RCCC program at Patrick Daly school in Brooklyn gives kids these tools, including skits and role-playing, which help them see that constructive options for resolving conflicts.

Interview with Daniel Goleman
The writer of the book Emotional Intelligence makes the case for SEL in schools, recorded at the annual CASEL conference.

Here are some articles, too:

"She Used to Be Pretty": Schoolyard Harassment Goes Online (Middle school bullying)

Fear Factor: Harassment Hurts

10 Tips for Creating a Caring School

Safe Schools Ambassadors Help Keep the Peace on Campus

Creating a Safe Place: Lessons on Managing Emotions Pay Off

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This year, in my 5th grade class, I had two girls who were sending each other unkind and threatening text messages (via their cell phones). This was totally unbeknown to me as we were on vacation while this was going on. One of the girl's mothers came to me about it as soon as school resumed. Not knowing exactly what to do, I referred it to our Principal.

It turned out that it is called cyber-bullying and in our district (in Southern California) this is an offense that can be an automatic expulsion. While the girls were not expelled, they were placed on suspension contracts which means that if they misbehave in any way or break any school rules, they can either be suspended or expelled.

It has been really good as one of the girls has been a bully for several years and this year, she is not because of this hanging over her head. While I don't think it will necessarily change her conscience, at least it is not allowing her to be mean on a daily basis with no one intervening.

Young Adult Novels

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There are also a few YA novels that deal with suicide and bullying that many of my students have read and found influential:

Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson
13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Am I Blue?: Coming out from the Silence by Marion Dane Bauer
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Director of Social Media Strategy and Marketing @Edutopia, edcamp organizer

More Resources on on Bullying

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:: We have a great discussion on Bullying in the Middle School:
:: We have a popular poll on "Does the Internet exacerbate bullying?" (it also lists great resources)
:: Resources to Fight Bullying and Harassment at School:
:: Article: Bullying: How Educators Can Make Schools Safer

This is all so helpful,

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This is all so helpful, thanks to those who are sharing this information. It is crucial that administrators and teachers take a responsible role of leadership in this area of human behavior, instead of looking the other way and mumbling, "Well, kids will be kids." As I make plans to return to teaching I feel so empowered by the information I find on Edutopia. Thanks again.

Here is the link to a taste

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Here is the link to a taste of the films our Conflict/Violence Prevention group has created and aired throughout our school.
Enjoy. pS. this is anything any teacher can do for kids if they care enough and have a digital camera.

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Awesome work, Sean. I work with video a lot, too, and this is a good example of the positive aspects of using communications technology.
Keep up the good work! (applause here)

Ass't Dir, Comm & Tech, International Institute for Restorative Practices

Webinar: Responding to bullying with restorative practices

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Responding to Bullying with Restorative Practices
May 11, 2010, 3:30-5PM EDT
Pre-registration required. Register online:
or call (610) 807-9221.
• Bob Costello, International Institute for Restorative Practices (IIRP) Director of Training & Consulting
• John Bailie, IIRP Assistant Director of Training & Consulting

Bullying has become far too common in schools today, and its consequences can be tragic. Many programs try to prevent it, with varying results. What do you do when it happens anyway? You empower those who have been harmed, by means of supported, face-to-face meetings with those who have harmed them, and you widen the circle to include everyone who has been affected. Prohibiting such face-to-face meetings only ensures that that next time these parties cross paths no responsible adult will be present, and more bullying will result. The webinar will also address:
• how to identify bullying, a very specific power dynamic
• the harm in labeling children as bullies or victims
• bullying fallacies and controversies

I am a Mom, a full time student,author of a blog Kindergarten Bullies

Social and Emotional Learning for very young children

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I write a blog called Kindergarten Bullies. My focus is bullying as it exists in pre-school and kindergarten and looking for ways to increase awareness and funding for those age groups. Prevention instead of correction. While there are wonderful programs, teachers and parents that do help, they are not available everywhere. I believe that everyone is responsible for allowing bullying to continue. That includes parents, educators, peers and society.
I would appreciate any information about Social and Emotional Learning programs for the very young. Together we can all make a difference!
I would share the information with my readers.

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Beth, thanks for this and I will visit your blog.

You know, the problem goes beyond the children, adults are rather good at this negative behavior, too. Just saw on Good Morning America (ABC) this morning, a piece about moms bullying other moms! And of course the wok place has long been a "jungle."

This is an age-old problem, a human nature thing, and we -- as concerned and compassionate teachers, parents, administrators -- can make a difference, even if only slight. Still we must make an effort. Good attracts good.

I am a Mom, a full time student,author of a blog Kindergarten Bullies

I couldn't agree with you

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I couldn't agree with you more. Part of my theory is that little bullies become big bullies, and all people are examples. We all know that children don't follow the "rule" "do as I say, not as I do" and that role models are the best teachers! It turns out there is an increasing problem with work place bullying as I understand it.
Rosalind Wiseman, who wrote "Queen Bees and Wannabees" also wrote "Queen Bee Moms and King Pin Dads" and it is an excellent look at parent's responsibility in bullying.
And good does attract good, in fact it is contagious. Have a wonderful day and thank you so much for your insight!
I didn't see the GMA spot but will look it up! Thanks for sharing!

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