October is Bullying Prevention Month, and schools and families across the country are having frank discussions to raise awareness about bullying. It's a subject that's grown increasingly complex and troubling over the years: while in-person teasing and harassment has never flagged, new technologies have given rise to cyberbullying, which can be equally as damaging -- and even more public. And news of tragic consequences stemming from cases of both kinds spreads quickly through social media.
Most statistics say that one out of four kids report being bullied, with numbers much higher for kids in certain groups, like LGBT teens or children with special needs. So it's more important than ever that parents and educators are vigilant in encouraging kids to be empathetic, and to become "upstanders" rather than bystanders. While it's easy to go down a pretty dark road when sharing stories about bullying, I wanted to mix up this collection with positive messages to share with your students, and introductions to some of the amazing organizations out there that offer tools for fighting back against bullying. Hopefully these videos will provide some good entry points for more discussion.
Watch the first video below, or watch the whole playlist on YouTube.
- Students Teach Students to Stand Up to Bullying (05:48)
In this wonderful piece, high school students in Ohio teach younger kids about the difference between an upstander and a bystander through role-playing. They're part of the Not in Our School program, the education branch of Not in Our Town.
- What is Empathy? (02:45)
The opposite of bullying? It's empathy, of course -- and Start Empathy is a wonderful program all about cultivating it in kids. They offer concrete tools like the Empathy 101 video playlist and tips for educators and parents.
- PACER Teens Against Bullying (02:40)
Nonprofit advocacy org PACER is one of the main sponsors of Bullying Prevention Month. They offer all kinds of anti-bullying resources on their specialized websites -- for kids, for teens, and their National Bullying Prevention Center website for parents and educators.
- Cyberbullying Educator Toolkit (02:15)
Common Sense Media does a fantastic job of providing resources for teachers around technology issues. This video is an introduction to their cyberbullying toolkit, available for free online, and broken down with specific resources for elementary, middle, and high school teachers.
- Rachel Crow - Mean Girls (Lyric Video) (03:12)
Sweet chalk-animated pop anthem by soulful-voiced 14-year-old singer Rachel Crow. Crow co-wrote this song to empower girls everywhere to stand up for themselves. Read an interview with Rachel on AOL Music.
- Bully -- Official Trailer (02:21)
This powerful documentary tracking the lives of five bullied students was made to raise awareness of the epidemic of bullying and stir people to action. Get more information at the film's website. There is also a viewing guide and other resources co-produced with Facing History and Ourselves.
- Facebook Stories: We Are All Daniel Cui (03:16)
An "I'm Spartacus" for the Facebook generation, this story about schoolmates standing up for a scapegoated goalie warmed my heart. A reminder that compassionate kids can turn around someone's day with a message of love as quickly as a bully can ruin it with a nasty one.
- 20 Years of GLSEN (03:54)
This retrospective video shows the history of GLSEN (the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network), an organization that works to encourage respect and combat discrimination and violence against LGBT youth in schools. Check out their educator resource page.
- CBS WKBT News Anchor's On-Air Response to Viewer Calling Her Fat (Oct. 2nd, 2012) (04:21)
This story exploded all over social media channels just recently -- Jennifer Livingston, a news anchor in Wisconsin, responded live on her show to a message she received from a viewer criticizing her weight. Some felt empowered by her message, some felt she was overreacting. However you interpret it, it was a gutsy, honest move on her part.
- Misdirections in Bullying Prevention & Response (06:21)
This video from StopBullying.gov is intended to help educators and parents head in the right direction when navigating the tricky waters of teaching bullying prevention. National expert in bullying prevention Dr. Catherine Bradshaw describes common pitfalls to avoid.
- My Bullying Story (06:44)
Videos like this one can be found on YouTube in the hundreds, where kids and teens share their innermost thoughts with the camera in a confessional manner. While it makes me sad that there are so many of these, it's great that these kids are finding solidarity through social media. What would your bullying story be if you made a video like this?
More Resources to Fight Bullying
If only showing a few compelling videos in October was enough to stop bullying. Of course, comprehensive and ongoing anti-bullying programs are the way to make changes in the culture at school. Still, the first step in ending negative and abusive behavior is to teach kids to recognize it and to speak up, and fortunately, there are lots of resources out there to open up the conversation. Start by checking out a few of these great organizations.
- PACER's National Bullying Prevention Center
- Not in Our Town
- Start Empathy Initiative from Ashoka
- Learning First Alliance's Bullying Resource Page
- Teaching Tolerance
- Common Sense Media's Cyberbullying Resources for Parents and Toolkit for Teachers
- GLSEN's Educator Resource Page
- The Trevor Project
- CASEL's Bullying Topic Page
- Defeat the Label
- National Crime Prevention Council's Bullying Resource Page
- Cyberbullying Starts in the Classroom: A Prevention Guide for Teachers from TeachingDegree.com