George Lucas Educational Foundation

How to use social and emotional learning to stop bullying

How to use social and emotional learning to stop bullying

More Related Discussions
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Share
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

Comments (44) Sign in or register to comment Follow Subscribe to comments via RSS

Mike's picture
Just Do The Right Thing

Beth, I think you're 100% right that "little bullies become big bullies" and thanks for your insightful post. Our Character Education program is tailored for kids in grades K-3 and tries to work with the Little Bullies early on.

Bonnie Jean Smith's picture

I used to work in domestic violence and I agree with you all about how little bullies become Big bullies. After writing domestic violence curriculum for children we found students in elementary, middle and some in high school had never been exposed to "bullying" behavior thus they did not know how to react to it. We included role playing in our curriculum which helped give these young people voice and practice in using that voice to fend off the bullies and protect themselves and their friends. Also we would recommend getting no contact orders for some of the situations that were turning ugly, this brought the family of the bully and the student being bullied into the judicial system. This allowed the courts to look into why the bully is bullying. Too many times they are perfecting a negative skill that is being used on them or around them.
Here is another web site that is helpful for students -staff and parents:

Jeanne Osgood's picture
Jeanne Osgood
Communications Outreach Coordinator at CASEL

Too often we deal with problems associated with bullying after it happens, and yet, preventing it or nipping it in the bud can have the potential to circumvent the worst of this behavior.

So how can teachers and parents at home help kids learn how to cope with these problems if and when they occur?

One practical way is to use a problem-solving exercise to help students understand that they have many options in how they might react to someone who bullies them or a friend.

I have had success working with kids and parents and brainstorming about things you can do if someone is picking on you (or your child).

Have the group make a list of options on the board or on sheets of paper. Try to come up with at least 12 ideas. These can be solutions such as talk to a friend about it, go play with someone else, get help from my teacher, clobber the kid, ignore it, etc. Then have the group put the options in order of riskiness. Clobbering the kid would have a high rank and going to play with someone else would have a low rank. Discuss the possible outcomes or risks of choosing any one option.

The takeaway is for children to learn to problem solve, try out solutions with the potential consequences in mind, and if they don't work, try something else. This is a basic SEL strategy.

One result of this exercise for kids and their parents is that it teaches that there are, in fact, many options, and that quite a few of them are good choices. So often, children who are bullied feel helpless and isolated and this exercise can remedy those feelings.

The more we empower children to take the lead in solving their social problems, the more capable they will become at managing hurtful situations they encounter and perhaps de-escalating the outcome. This proactive approach can help children think through their options while not stressed, and be more prepared when problems occur.

DRen's picture
Elementary/Middle School instrumental Music Teacher in Illinois

So many of the bully incidences that I see in my school start off with basic rudeness by the "bully" usually received by another who is offended by that person. The receiver cannot understand why that person would say what he did, etc. The "bully" usually explains that it was intended to be funny. Seems that students who operate in this form of humor are not as effected and it "rolls of their back" while others head into the vortex of having to put up with continually rude comments. Then it escalates into strong and hurtful behavior. This behavior becomes the basic way of meeting daily situations and a Bully is born. Many situations can be summed up by the student as "thought it would be funny". It is a tragedy where society has gone to give support for such humor and made so available for children who are not able to tell what is or is not appropriate.

Suzanne Steelman's picture

Observing young children and how they bully or are bullied by one another is amazing. The start of it begins at a very young age and a sence of fear is associated with it. Adults need to be more aware of this aggressive behavior.

Cheri Lian's picture
Cheri Lian
Creator of Genna & Russ, The Generous Kids

Bullying has become an epidemic in this country. We MUST focus on social emotional development at an early age. Little ones need to have the virtue of generosity instilled when they are developing. Check out this website for inexpensive tools for teachers and parents:

Lyle Cogen's picture

I feel like I was called into action years ago. I received a commissioning and funding ( by Tilles Center For The Performing Arts, NY and The US Dept of Justice) to "speak" to children and adolescents through art. My art is theater and music, so I wote a musical play for gr. 4-8, and then I continued to create other kinds of programs (K-8) in different formats to address SEL. I have been to 5 states Since Sept 1.... rural, suburban and urban communities. I have noticed over and over that there are significant differences between each kind of region and community. One of these differences is in how each community of children saw themselves in terms of the world. I have observed that in suburban and rural communities children were not easily able to identify themselves as bullies (or having bullying behavior). However, children in urban communities did, both willingly and overwhelmingly, see themselves as bullies. They wanted to be bullies for the power and the respect that goes along with it. Most were could see it in their stature and hear it in their voices. I have been in places where students do not know the definition of "bullying." They are confused. They think that if a person is mean to another person one time that is bullying. Their perception is a result of the "zero tolerance" policy that's delivered through lip service. My name is Lyle Cogen. Please come see what I do and share your thoughts. Facebook: LYLECOGEN

Courtney's picture

It's horrible that anyone, especially children, have to deal with bullying. As time passes, this issue isn't getting dealt with any more effectively than when I was a kid. It's more in the open now and being talked about more in homes and in schools, yet there seems to be nothing truly happening to stop this problem. It's a social problem that everyone needs to address and help prevent, not just parents and teachers, as it happens everywhere and not just in schools. Here is a great article on the long lasting affects of bullying:

Sign in to comment. Not a member? Register.