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

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

Summer Reading—for Pleasure and for Professional Development

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Wed, Jun 5, 2013 @ 14:06 PM

Four ‘Character’ Books to Explore

By Becky Sipos, Chief Operating Officer

When I was a teacher, I always looked forward to catching up on the pleasures of reading during summer vacation. I accumulated a big stack of beach reading and fun novels, but I also always took time to read some education books to improve my teaching and recharge my classroom practices.

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Topics: Character Education News, character, bullying advice

Be More Than a Bystander: Speak Up Against Bullying and Violence

Posted by Rob McManamy on Tue, Apr 16, 2013 @ 10:04 AM

Since I started working with CEP over a year ago, I have found myself looking at virtually everything I do—see, hear, read about, etc.—through a prism of right-and-wrong, searching for a teachable moment in just about every action. But even so, I still feel that my experiences over the last five weeks have been unusually dominated by one recurring theme: the importance of speaking up.

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Topics: integrity, school safety, bullying advice

Tips from the Trenches: Student Services

Posted by Sweta Haldar on Tue, Feb 19, 2013 @ 10:02 AM


By Dr. Stephen Sroka
During the last few months, I have had the chance to talk with several speakers who strongly affected their audiences. I started to think about the remarkable leaders with whom I have worked over the years and how they have made huge differences with their incredible wisdom, insights, and actions. I contacted some of them and asked them to comment on working in education in these difficult times. I asked them to share some take-away messages, things that if they were speaking, they would want their audience to remember.

Students are more than grade-point averages. Often they are faced with many barriers to effective education. Dealing with the whole child, and not just the academic child, can help  facilitate learning. Safe and healthy students learn more. Here are some "Tips from the Trenches" about the value of supporting students.

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Topics: school climate, school safety, testing, bullying advice

Michele Borba's Essential 6 R’s of Bullying Prevention

Posted by Adam Williams on Fri, Nov 2, 2012 @ 17:11 PM


Internationally recognized expert and author Michele Borba gave attendees a tour-de-force of the critical components of effective bullying prevention. Most people don’t realize what an issue bullying is in the United States, but a few statistics make it clear that we have an epidemic. Today, 1 in 3 US students are bullied. Rates are similarly high and rising internationally, where 1 in 5 students is bullied. The problem is so bad that the US National School Safety Center has stated that bullying is “the most enduring and underrated problem in American schools.” 

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Topics: character, Forum Speakers, CEP2012, Borba Michele, cyberbullying, Michele Borba, bullying advice

Dealing with Difficult Students, A Challenge Worth Accepting

Posted by Adam Williams on Thu, Nov 1, 2012 @ 20:11 PM

Dealing with a difficult child is one of those necessary tasks in education and parenting that we would all choose to forgo if given the opportunity. The fact remains that dealing with these kids provides an excellent opportunity to shape and mold a student’s character.

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Topics: character, CEP2012, discipline, National Forum, bullying advice

Preventing Bullying and Developing Leaders

Posted by Kalyn Mace-Guilloux on Tue, Oct 30, 2012 @ 10:10 AM

A 2011 study in Virginia elementary, middle, and high schools found that bullying is considered the primary safety concern of students in all grade levels (Garrow, 2011). Students in middle school were most concerned with bullying (92%), followed by elementary (83%) and high school students (77%). Bullied students may experience many negative effects, including depression and risk for suicide (Kim & Leventhal, 2008). These statistics are alarming, and it is important to understand the ways that schools and districts can exponentially reduce these concerns so that students are able to concentrate on learning and build healthy peer relationships.

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Topics: Forum Speakers, leadership, teachers, bullying advice

Broken Kids Are Breaking All of Us

Posted by Annie Fox on Tue, Oct 16, 2012 @ 15:10 PM

Don't miss your chance for a free copy of Teaching Kids to Be Good People: Progressive Parenting for the 21st Century, by Annie Fox. Just click the link on Thursday, 10/18/12 or Friday, 10/19/12 for your free book. Note: The link will only work these two days for a free book.  Even if you don't have a Kindle, the downloaded file will work on your Mac, PC, iPod, iPhone, Android, Blackberry, and Windows Phone. Here is an excerpt to whet your appetite:

I remember October 1, 2010. My friend Rachel emailed to find out if I’d blogged yet about the cyberbullying incident that ended in a Rutgers University freshman killing himself. I told her the news had really upset me, but I had no insights that couldn’t be found elsewhere. What do you say when yet another teen is so victimized by bullies s/he can’t figure out what the hell to do to make things OK again and gives up everything just to end the suffering?

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Topics: Forum Speakers, parent involvement, cyberbullying, bullying advice