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Bullying-Educating the Mind and the Heart



Bullying-Educating the Mind and the Heart

In the November/December issue of Momentum (The Official Journal of the National Catholic Educational Association), an article entitled, “The Best Way to Prevent Bullying in Catholic Schools” reminds readers that teachers, parents, and administrators have an important role to play in preventing bullying, “but the key to an effective bullying prevention program is to change the hearts and minds of our students.”
Teaching our children and students conflict resolution strategies is something that can be taught and modeled at home and school.  Allowing students to resolve minor conflicts in a way that mimics the teachings of Jesus involves skills that must be modeled and taught to students.  First, teach children that effective discussions usually do not occur when one party or both are angry and emotional.  A cooling off period may be necessary before any conversations or actions can begin.  Secondly, identify the issue.  Teaching students how to use “I” statements to express their feelings is crucial.  A simple format can be used repeatedly.  “When you __________, I feel ___________.  Emphasis on assertiveness, honesty, and tone allows children to state what is bothering them.  Finally, teach children to attentively listen to the other people and then paraphrase what the other person(s) is feeling.  Once a clear understanding of the problem exists, students can collaborate and agree upon possible solutions.  Providing children with these skills will not only help with the prevention of bullying, but also provide your child with empathy, sympathy, and courage.
At Central Catholic, a formal bullying policy exists to assist parents, students, and staff with identifying the issue.  Page 39 of the Knightline defines bullying as, “overt, unwanted, repeated acts or gestures including verbal and or written communications or images transmitted in any manner including electronically or digitally.”  Incidents of bullying can be reported and tracked using locally created forms.  Separate forms exist for students, parents, and staff.  In order for administrators and staff to be aware of potential bullying, it must be reported.  As a school, we are required by law to investigate all reports of alleged bullying.  In addition to an established policy for reporting bullying, a ‘bully box’ is located outside the guidance office area.  Students can anonymously report alleged bullying happening to them or others.
Teaching and modeling appropriate behavior for our students is a joint venture between parents and school staff.  We can educate and provide them with the verbal and reasoning skills needed to address bullying, but it is how we teach students to relate to one another that comes from the heart.


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