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

Help for Parents: 18 Tips to Protect Your Teen from Cyber-bullies

Posted by Michele Borba on Tue, Sep 18, 2012 @ 14:09 PM

“A number of middle school students—including my daughter–are receiving vicious anonymous e-mails and text messages from peers. The school sent a letter home describing the problem as ‘cyber-bullying.’ What do I do to help my daughter? When do I worry? Do I call the police? HELP please!” - A concerned mother from Omaha, NE

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Topics: parent involvement, Borba Michele, cyberbullying, Michele Borba, bullying advice

President's Post: Broader Impact of Bullying

Posted by Mark Hyatt on Fri, Aug 31, 2012 @ 09:08 AM

Earlier this month, I attended the Federal Partners in Bullying Prevention Summit here in D.C. Now, we all know how concerned Secretary Arne Duncan and the U.S. Dept. of Education are about this issue. But I was particularly heartened to hear how pro-active the U.S. Justice Department is. They are also working to reduce and prevent school bullying across the nation. 

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Topics: key lessons, Education News, president's post, cyberbullying, bullying advice

Back to School, Back to Social Garbage

Posted by Annie Fox on Fri, Aug 24, 2012 @ 17:08 PM

The following first appeared on Annie Fox's blog and she has graciously allowed us to share it. We are so thrilled that she joined us at our 19th National Forum on Character Education this year! Thanks, Annie!

So, summer’s winding down. I broke my arm, but at least I was enjoying a bike ride when it happened. Hopefully you didn’t have that kind of break. Instead, I hope you and your kids shared some quality, unplugged time and reconnected, as a family.

If school hasn’t already resumed in your community, it will soon. On the plus side, that means your children start a new chapter with new opportunities to learn and grow, academically, creatively and socially. A positive attitude from you goes a long way in easing any of the kids’ nervousness or anxiety about the new school year.

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Topics: school climate, parent involvement, student voice, bullying advice

Bully Prevention: Helping Kids Cool Hot Tempers

Posted by Michele Borba on Tue, Jul 24, 2012 @ 12:07 PM

“I tried to stay calm, but it was too late!”

“I wish I could tell when I’m about to explode.”

“Don’t keep telling me I’m going to lose all my friends because of my temper. I can’t help it.”

Your child may be more excitable or passionate by nature, but sometimes this emotional temperament can get out of control.

Though you can’t change your kid’s basic personality, you can teach him some strategies and skills to help him get along and handle intense feelings. And there are important reasons to do so.

Let’s face it, hot tempers can cause serious damage in health, relationships, school, life, as well as ruin your kid’s reputation. Unless kids learn ways to recognize their own unique danger signs of control their anger, problems are inevitable. After all, hot-tempered kids are no fun to be around.

New studies show that hot-tempered kids are also more likely to be bullied or be a bully.

All good reasons to work on this issue problem A.S.A.P.  And what better time than during the summer? Here are ways to work on bully prevention and ensure your child keeps his or her cool.

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Topics: family, Borba Michele, moral character, discipline, Michele Borba, bullying advice

4 Safety Rules to Curb Cyber-bullying

Posted by Michele Borba on Tue, Jun 26, 2012 @ 17:06 PM

REALITY CHECK: Did you know that a recent survey found that almost 70 percent of adolescents say the best way for them to be safe online is through education? Are you educating your child how to be safe online?

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Topics: parent involvement, technology, cyberbullying, Michele Borba, bullying advice

What's Different for Students in a School of Character?

Posted by Lara Maupin on Tue, Jun 5, 2012 @ 15:06 PM

In schools of character:

  • Bullying is rare

87% of students attending 2011 National Schools of Character reported in climate surveys that they felt safe school or that bullying was rare (with 27 of the 44 NSOC reporting data in this category).

Eldridge Park Elementary School (Lawrenceville, NJ): 100% of 3rd graders report feeling safe at school in exit polls.

Fuguitt Elementary School (Largo, FL): 98% of students report feeling safe at school

Mark Twain Elementary School (Brentwood, MO): The school reports an 85% reduction in incidents of bullying over the past 6 years.

Union Elementary School (Buckhannon, WV): 93% of students surveyed say they have never been bullied.

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Topics: CEPLeaders, student voice, National School of Character, bullying advice

'Bully'-- It’s Time to Stop Talking!

Posted by Joe Mazzola on Fri, Apr 27, 2012 @ 09:04 AM

Last Friday I had the honor of representing CEP at a special White House screening of the movie, Bully.  The movie is heart-wrenching.  When it was over, I felt sad, disappointed, emotionally drained and angry.  I can remember thinking to myself, “My gosh, how in the world can we as a nation allow this sort of thing to happen?  Aren’t we better than that?”

Bully, in the end, is really a graphic depiction of a breakdown of good character in many ways—on the part of the bullies, the bystanders, and even some school administrators and teachers.  It’s also a sad reflection on our culture—we as human beings.  After the film, several parents and students who were in the film spoke, along with the director, the Secretary of Education, the Sr. Advisor to the President and the Superintendent of Schools for Sioux City, Iowa, who showed great courage in opening up his school system for taping.

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Topics: CEPLeaders, school climate, bullying advice

Bullying Prevention: What Really Works

Posted by Lara Maupin on Tue, Apr 10, 2012 @ 15:04 PM

There’s been a great deal of nationwide interest in the issue of bullying lately, with good reason since about one-quarter of our nation’s students report being bullied regularly. Despite the intensified focus, many well-meaning parents, educators, and leaders are left wondering what exactly they should do to stop peer cruelty and prevent possible tragedies. Zero tolerance? Anti-bullying coordinators? Legislation? Assemblies? Curriculum? What really works? Where can educators get the most bang for their buck and make the biggest positive impact on the young people in their care?

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Topics: Service learning, National School of Character, bullying advice

CEP and The Virtues Project Offer Free Tickets to See the Movie Bully

Posted by Katie Hood on Mon, Apr 2, 2012 @ 17:04 PM

If you live in Washington, DC area and have a stake in our nation's education, you are invited to reserve your ticket today to see the movie Bully for free. Only 250 tickets are available. If you do not reserve a ticket, you are not guaranteed admission to this event.

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Topics: Character Education News, Education News, bullying advice

Preventing Bullying—a Teacher’s Perspective

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Thu, Mar 29, 2012 @ 17:03 PM

The movie Bully opens tomorrow in select theaters. You no doubt have seen many of the stories about the film as it has received widespread news coverage, in addition to on social media platforms like Twitter (#BullyMovie and @BullyMovie). I saw the movie last year at a prerelease screening at the U.S. Dept. of Ed. It’s a powerful film designed to show what being bullied is really like for some kids. Of course, I was very saddened by the terrible stories of the kids being bullied, but as a former teacher, I was more alarmed at the behavior of the authority figures in the film—behaviors familiar to any teacher or administrator. Director Lee Hirsh says that the question of how to respond appropriately to bullying is at the heart of the film.

How should teachers and administrators handle bullying? I was reminded of a courageous film sent to us a few years ago by Fox High School in Arnold, MO. The video is a powerful demonstration of how teachers can sometimes act like bullies without even realizing it instead of preventing bullying. Watch the film below and ask yourself if you are a bully or a teacher.

I contacted Fox High School to see what changes may have come about since they made this film. Assistant Principal Gina Buehner said that initially the school did a lot, and many have changed as a result of the process.

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Topics: teachers, bullying advice

19 Signs Your Child Is Being Bullied and What to Do about It

Posted by Michele Borba on Tue, Mar 6, 2012 @ 15:03 PM

Warnings signs that your child is being bullied

If your child is bullied it means that a peer or peers are intentionally causing her or him pain. Peer abuse! Just the thought can send shivers down our spines.

But the fact is 160,000 children skip school every day because they fear being attacked or intimidated by other students. Reports also confirm that bullying is starting at younger ages and is more frequent and aggressive than before. And the cruel behavior increases with age. Chances are your child may be bullied.

Also troubling is that our children don’t always tell us that they have been bullied. I’ve spent many a meeting with kids who were repeatedly victimized and in clear emotional pain.

“Why didn’t you go to a trusted adult for help?” I’d ask.

Their replies were concerning:

“I did tell my mom. She didn’t believe me.”

“I tried to tell, but I got too embarrassed.”

“If I told my dad he would have only made things worse by yelling at the bully.”

“Why bother? The stuff my mom told me to try wouldn’t work.”

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Topics: student voice, Michele Borba, bullying advice

Nurturing Tolerance to Reduce Bullying

Posted by Michele Borba on Wed, Feb 1, 2012 @ 15:02 PM

 

Contributed by Michele Borba

How teaching children tolerance can curb bullying and peer cruelty

REALITY CHECK: Did you know that today’s American youth is displaying intolerant actions at alarming rates – and at younger and younger ages? The FBI tells us most hate crimes are committed by youths younger than nineteen.

Tolerance is a powerful virtue that helps curtail hatred, bullying, violence, and bigotry while at the same time influencing us to treat others with kindness, respect, and understanding.

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Topics: Michele Borba, bullying advice

Why Kids Bully

Posted by Michele Borba on Tue, Jan 10, 2012 @ 16:01 PM

 

It’s not easy to know that your child is bullying.

It’s hard to admit that your kid is using aggression.

But to allow bullying behaviors to continue will be disastrous to your child’s character, conscience, reputation, well-being and mental health.

No matter the age, gender, religion, or ethnicity, any child resorting to bullying needs an immediate behavior intervention.

Please do not make the mistake of thinking that bullying just “a phase” or a “rite of passage.” Behaviors and attitudes turn into habits and can easily be entrenched and much harder to change. Now is the time to help your child.

A key to changing bullying is to uncover what is motivating the child’s behavior. Each child is different and multiple factors may play into bullying so a “one-size fits all” remedy will not work.

Best intervention plans are based on the “medical model approach.” Doctors don’t give the same medication to every patient. They first identify the symptoms, and then diagnose the reason so they can use the right treatment. The wrong diagnosis means the wrong treatment, and that means your child won’t improve.

The good news is because bullying is a learned behavior it can also be unlearned. The sooner you begin, the greater your success!

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Topics: bullying advice

Pulling up bootstraps

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Tue, Jun 28, 2011 @ 17:06 PM

We’ve recently posted some great news articles on our Facebook page from around the country about communities that inject valuable character education into the local sports scenes.  The Major League Baseball Urban Youth Academy Leadership and Character Development Camp in Vero Beach, Florida emphasizes character education at their summer camp.  Midnight Basketball in Taylor, Texas is more informal, yet is a well-known gathering place for teens to play in a pick-up game at night and benefit from the wisdom and values shared by local mentors and leaders. 

On a similar note, this year’s Promising Practices winners include schools like Gallup Hill Elementary in Ledyard Connecticut and South Grafton Elementary in South Grafton, Massachusetts whose P.E. teachers have helped to transform the recess period into constructive game time using character education and organized athletic activity. Their actions have greatly diminished playground shenanigans and bullying and encouraged cooperative play and teamwork.

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Topics: character education in curriculum, resiliency, bullying advice

Bullying in Schools: A Strategic Solution

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Mon, Jan 24, 2011 @ 18:01 PM

Written by Joseph W. Mazzola President & CEO Character Education Partnership

Bullying in our nation’s schools is rampant.

Consider the following data points from the 2010 Federal Bullying Prevention Summit: every day, 160,000 students stay home out of fear of getting bullied at school; 1 in 3 students will be bullied this year (about 18M young people); 75-80% of all students observe bullying; and, depending on definition, 15-35% of students are victims of cyber-bullying.

Fortunately, our elected officials and others are now taking bold action. To their credit, for example, 43 states have passed anti-bullying legislation. 

I had the honor of representing CEP at the Summit. The key takeaways were: (1) bullying in schools is widespread; (2) the ramifications are very serious; (3) we need to learn more through research; (4) several government agencies are truly committed to taking this issue on; (5) policies and definitions need attention and clarity; (6) there are 67 programs that claim to combat bullying; (7) none of them has been shown to be effective through research; and (8) there is no simple, silver bullet solution.

As with all complex and chronic problems in our schools, narrowly focused intervention strategies typically fail to make a lasting impact. Zero tolerance policies, hallway posters and such all sound very good in theory. There is no doubt that they are also implemented by well-meaning people who really do want to make things better. However, according to many experts, such measures are shallow in nature and thus fail to achieve their intended purpose, especially over the long haul.

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Topics: character education, school climate, character education in curriculum, discipline, National School of Character, bullying advice