Bullying seems to be more prevalent than ever among children. Perhaps it’s because there’s more discussion about the dilemma. Or maybe we’re finally at our wit’s end. No matter the reason for this bullying “boost,” there must be something done to turn things around to stop bullying and create a safe space for our kids to thrive.
Oftentimes, bullying takes place within a group – even within a Girl Scouts* troop. Be it peer pressure or the power in numbers, when more than one child jumps on the “bully bandwagon,” the malice is multiplied. And for the victim, the harm is hard to take.
What can we do? As adults, it’s imperative to set expectations, not only through leading by example, but by creating a bully-free environment within the troop or group. With relatable rules and go-to guidance, the children will find a common ground. They will strive to show they’re above bullying and pass along their positivity by paying it forward.
Be straightforward and even simplistic. Bullying is bad – plain and simple. But kids already know that. What they need is a foundation or formula to prevent bullying from starting in the first place and how to banish it from their lives for the long term. Use the four “Cs” to convey this message to the troop or group – Communication, Caring, Commitment, and Change.
Sit down with the children and have a frank discussion about bullying. Some of them may have been bullied before. And some may have been the perpetrators. Talk about how they felt no matter which side they were on. Give examples of what bullying may entail as well as signs that someone’s being bullied or bullying others. StopBullying.gov provides detailed information for signs to look out for, from avoidance of social situations to blaming others for their problems. Let the children know that the lines of communication are always open. Less than half of bullying incidents go unreported, so let’s do all we can to make children comfortable communicating.
When caring is at the forefront of friendships, bullying gets left behind. It’s clear that not every child will be best friends with the other kids in the troop or group. They may not even get along at all. And that’s OK. What’s not OK is when children don’t care about their peers. Lack of compassion causes desensitization leading to a breakdown of basic empathy for others. When humanity is hardly seen, bullying busts in to work its wicked ways. Caring keeps the children closer. Friends or not, at the very least they’re cordial and kind.
Make a pact or promise that no one in the troop or group will ever resort to bullying. And if they see something, say something. When they’re all in it together, the commitment to drive away bullying from their circle remains strong. Whenever the troop or group comes together, repeat your mission to ban bullying. From teasing to taunting to getting tough, there is no degree of bullying that’s acceptable. Continual reminders to pledge to keep the no-bully bond unbroken is an effort that requires all hands on deck.
Older children that have made the commitment to stop bullying in their troop or group can help advocate for bully prevention in their community. The Wellbeing Advocate Patch Program® and Wellbeing Delegate Service Program from Youth Squad both include information and links to learn more about the effects of bullying and how to stand up to bullies. Your troop or group can use one of our suggested anti-bulling service projects or come up with one of their own.
With the first three “Cs” practiced and perfected, the fourth – change – can happen. A childhood that’s made up of happy moments, magical milestones, and one day, fond memories, is best when bullying never comes about. Share your ideas with leaders of other troops and groups to get the momentum going. Spread the love far and wide. Bullying is not a normal part of growing up. And when we decide to change for the better, we’re all better for it.
*youthsquad.makingfriends.com and MakingFriends®.com are not affiliated with, endorsed by or a licensee of Girl Scouts of the USA.