Spread the Word
Like most school principals and vice principals, I do spend some of my time addressing issues related to student to student conflicts and bullying issues in various contexts.It’s an important part of the job and one way that we ensure student safety as well as develop and sustain parents’ trust in public education.
Recently, in both the schools I work at, we’ve had a spike in incidents of online bullying and harassment and we’ve done a lot of work with students and families to work out these issues; investigate and assign consequences. The thing about bullying through social networks that is important to note is when kids are bullied online, they really have no way to get away from it~ most kids access social networks at home which means that the bullies don’t just follow them home, they come right inside the house. This why we have laws in Ontario that allow schools to respond to incidents that occur out of the school, as well as in the school.
So we talk about it, in classes, in assemblies and at parent nights. We work with our student and parent councils, not just to address bullying, but also to explore the underlying conditions that lead to this behavior; the lack of understanding and appreciation for diversity. When how we are different is more important that what we have in common, we see bullying in all it’s forms. So, we’ve signed up as a school to participate in Canada’s National Day of Pink – http://www.dayofpink.org/
Rather than just run morning announcements, put up posters and do all the usual things we do to inform students, I met with our grade 7 and 8 students and gave them a challenge. I asked them to use their social networks to spread the word about our Day of Pink and find out what other schools were involved in this day. After all, if we use these networks to engage in this type of behavior, we certainly can think about using them to stop this type of behavior. We’ll see how the strategy works.
However, recent events in Eqypt seem to suggest that it should work, don’t you think?