What's Happening in Character?

Cooperative Games to Prevent Bullying

Posted by Suzanne Lyons on Thu, Apr 21, 2016 @ 09:04 AM

By Suzanne Lyons, Founder, Cooperative Games

Background on Bullying

The basic fact of bullying is that it is a cruel torment, so disturbing that most educators would prefer to look away. But of course we know we cannot. The Department of Health and Human Services defines bullying this way:

Bullying is unwanted aggressive behavior among school-aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated or has the potential to be repeated over time…Bullying includes such actions as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physical or verbally, and excluding someone from a group.1

Bullying typically begins in elementary school, peaks in middle school, and declines in the final years of high school. Its effects can be severe and long-lasting. Kids who are bullied are five times more likely to be depressed compared to their peers. Bullied boys are four times more likely to be suicidal. Girls who are bullied are eight times more likely to be suicidal.2 Nevertheless, bullying is shockingly common. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, over 27 percent of students aged 12 to 18 reported being bullied at school during the school year in 2011, the most recent year for which statistics are available.3

Moreover, the link between bullying and later delinquent and criminal behavior is clear. Nearly 60 percent of boys classified by researchers as bullies in grades six through nine were convicted of at least one crime by the age of 24.4 It’s not just the bullies who are at risk for later criminal behavior. Victims of bullying sometimes explode in ways that threaten the school community, including school shootings. A Secret Service study of school shootings found that “almost three-quarters of the attackers felt persecuted, bullied, threatened, attacked, or injured by others prior to the incident.” 5

Besides all of the suffering, bullying is also tragic for the loss of opportunity it represents. Both bullying and being bullied destroy the basic peace and sense of security students need for happiness, learning, and growth—all the normal positive experiences that should be available to every child in school.

Preventing Bullying with Cooperative Games

Teachers and administrators are responding to the bullying crisis in two main ways, 1) through anti-bullying measures and 2) through bullying prevention. Though both approaches have their place, just as in medicine, prevention is generally easier and more effective than reacting to damage that has already occurred. As the experts at the Department of Health and Human Services website StopBullying.gov say, “The easiest way to address bullying is to stop it before it starts.”

Prevention is where cooperative games come in.

Cooperative games are games based on playing together toward a common goal rather than competing against one another to win. Cooperative games can be board games, active physical games, circle games, online games, etc. The point is that players are always on the same team and working together toward one goal. There is no competition, exclusion, or being left behind in a cooperative game. Goals, resources, and winning or losing are all shared.

Research on cooperative games shows that when people work, or more accurately play, toward a common goal, divisions are healed. Friendships are forged and aggression is replaced with camaraderie. The pro-social effects of uniting people through cooperative games has been observed at all age levels and among at-risk groups such as juvenile offenders. Research going back decades substantiates this.6 What is new however is applying the peace-making power of cooperative games in the effort to prevent bullying.

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Topics: bullying prevention, bullying, Relationship Building, bullying advice

Athletes Against Bullying

Posted by Jennifer DiStefano on Mon, Mar 14, 2016 @ 07:03 AM

by Jennifer DiStefano, Student Assistance Counselor, Cherry High School East

According to the National Bullying Prevention Center, one out of four students will experience bullying during their school age years. This is an upsetting statistic, but one student was determined to do something about it.

Student on a Mission

A student-athlete at Cherry Hill High School East, David Golkow, class of 2016, had the drive to make an impact on his building and his community. Along with his passion for sports, he was inspired by the anti-bullying work done by Eagles player, DeSean Jackson, and David had the determination to help to put an end to bullying. He knew the influence that sports had on the community so he decided to found the club Athletes Against Bullying. The mission of Athletes Against Bullying is to educate student-athletes at Cherry Hill High School East in order to prevent bullying on the school’s sports teams and for student-athletes to promote the anti-bullying message throughout the school and the community.

The club works to achieve this mission in multiple ways.Primarily, all of the members attend periodic half-day training sessions. During these sessions, various activities educate them on bullying. For example, there have been presentations with bullying experts, guest speakers such as professional athletes, Brandon Bair of the Eagles and Vince Papale, and recently, an examination of a staged bullying incident in their own school. These discussions of how bullying takes shape, how to respond to and prevent bullying, and other important subjects help to create awareness and ensure that a huge part of the school can serve as role models.

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Topics: bullying prevention, bullying, bullying advice, Youth Sports

Intentional Strategies for Making Bullying Prevention Effective and Fun

Posted by Susan Bakus on Mon, Oct 26, 2015 @ 05:10 AM

Bullying prevention needs to be embedded in a school’s culture, a seamless aspect of everyday life, but having a special day devoted to raising awareness around the consequences of bullying can be a great kickstart! Read on to learn more about Fort Settlement Middle School’s efforts to prevent bullying.

By Susan Bakus, Campus Assessment Coordinator at Fort Settlement Middle School, a 2015 National School of Character

Fort Settlement Middle School prides itself on how well our students follow our Falcon Code of Conduct: Be Responsible, Be Respectful, Be Safe, and Be Ready to Learn…

Because we teach our student expectations starting on the first day of school and consistently reteach these expectations throughout the school year, our school has had no reported cases of bullying in the past several years.The code of conduct is intertwined in our weekly Advisory lessons as well as on our half days of instruction with a character focus. 

Every October, our district has a half-day for staff development. Because of this schedule, teachers see only half of their classes that day; rather than working on content curriculum, we use that morning with our students to build our anti-bullying program and provide lessons for the teachers for the day. The strength of our lessons is in the fact that they are primarily student created and teacher facilitated. Our PALs (Peer Assisted Leadership) students work with their teacher and our Campus Improvement Specialist/Assessment Coordinator to develop ideas for the focus of the lessons.

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Topics: bullying prevention, bullying

Annie Fox Addresses Bullying Issues in "Whose Kids Are These Anyway"

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Thu, Jan 22, 2015 @ 14:01 PM

When it comes to bullying prevention, teachers handle concerns from parents, demands from administrators and regulations from their local and federal governments, all while educating a group of 20 or so young students. Rather than simply providing them resources and telling them to solve the problem, it is important to also stress, they are not alone.

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Topics: character education, teachers, bullying, bullying advice, Fox Annie

Proactive Approaches to Bullying Prevention: Two Schools Share Their Success

Posted by Rebecca Bauer on Tue, Jan 20, 2015 @ 11:01 AM

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

Bullying Prevention  goes hand in hand with honoring Martin Luther King, Jr., a man who stood up for what he believed in, even when that was a very difficult thing to do. Martin Luther King Jr. serves as an exemplar for students who are striving to become allies to their bullied peers, rather than mere bystanders. In honor of Martin Luther King Day, here are two examples  of schools who have done an amazing job empowering their students to stand up for and care for one another.

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Topics: character education, cyberbullying, compassion, bullying

Renewing commitments, battling bullies, and celebrating servant-leaders

Posted by Mark Hyatt on Wed, Oct 16, 2013 @ 20:10 PM

Another school year is now in high gear, and like you, we at “Character.org” once again find ourselves energized and empowered by all the new, hopeful faces we see each day and the
rejuvenated, resilient promise of the teaching profession, itself.

Making a difference.

That is your raison d’être and it is ours, as well. More precisely, our goal essentially is to help you achieve your overriding goal—to develop “ethical citizens committed to building a more just and caring world.” With that in mind, we know how incredibly busy you all are. So we are truly honored that so many of you will spend valuable time with us this month at our 20th National Forum on Character Education, Oct. 24-27, at the Washington Renaissance Hotel. Rest assured, we are committed to making this conference as useful, as interesting and as enjoyable for you as any professional development you have ever experienced.

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Topics: character, ethical and engaged citizens, bullying