Tuesday, October 23, 2018

4 Ways You Can Take Action to Fight Bullying

Bullying: it’s something we’re all too familiar with—whether we’ve experienced it or witnessed it. No matter how it’s done (verbally or physically) or where it happens (online or offline), bullying has been shown to cause social, emotional, mental, and physical damage in the short and the long term.

If you’re wondering how to take action against it, check out how some Girl Scouts have dedicated their time to bullying prevention. Just like these G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader)™ standouts, you can make a difference in your own right.

1) Challenge It

The girls of Girl Scout Troop 91046 noticed how gossiping can create a negative atmosphere at school, so they launched the No Gossip Tuesdays challenge to promote positivity and friendship among middle-school students in Brunswick, Ohio. After getting permission from school principals, they placed signs on the cafeteria tables that read “Think before you speak” and offered discussion topic ideas. With the students being encouraged to replace small talk with more engaging conversation, they’re likelier to build strong, positive relationship with one another and make lunchtime a safe space for everyone.

The troop is currently working on bringing No Gossip Tuesdays to other local middle schools for a larger impact. In the words of its members, “Even at 12 or 13 years of age, you have the potential to make someone's day, to be kind, to say something nice, to lend a helping hand.”

2) Raise Awareness
When we think about bullying, we like to think that we aren’t contributing to it in any way. And yet, through certain actions of ours, we can wind up doing just this. So although it’s hard to admit that we, too, can engage in bullying behavior, learning about it—in all its shapes and forms—is the first step to stopping or preventing it.

Girl Scout Tatum made it her mission to educate local youth on the subject. She organized a three-on-three basketball tournament to, in a unique way, bring attention to bullying and help participants learn about the different forms it can take and how to take action against it.

3) Spread Positivity

Thinking of students who retreat to bathrooms when they’re angry or sad, Girl Scout Troop 4664 painted positive messages across the 42 bathroom stalls of a local school. Messages include “Broken crayons still color,” “You are brave,” “Good vibes only,” ‘”Dream, Strive, Become,” “Drive with purpose,” “You are enough,” and “Be humble and kind.”

Says Girl Scout Shafer, “We thought it would be good to help people early on in their lives to be motivated and self-confident.”

4) Facilitate Friendships

If you’ve spent time in school, you know how hard it can be to make friends. You may have eaten lunch by yourself on many occasions, wishing you could share it with someone. This feeling of isolation is pretty common among students, and it can make one an easy target for bullying.

With that in mind, the girls of Troop 8457 built and installed a “buddy bench" on the playground of their local elementary school, to encourage kids to spend time together and foster friendships.

Like these Girl Scouts, you have the power to challenge and reduce the incidence of bullying. Start with your own community. Work with teachers, counselors, and administrators to change the culture that can contribute to bullying behaviors. Host events to educate your neighbors. Create safe spaces for students to share their experiences and take positive action together. Although bullying can make both victims and witnesses feel helpless, there is always something that can be done.