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Standing Up to Bullies

Standing Up to Bullies

By Holly Mitchell, Promise Fellow at Andersen United Community School

Recently, I paired up with a social work intern to write a curriculum for a girl’s group and come up with a list of topics and activities to use throughout the year. Teachers and staff members suggested possible topics that influence classroom behavior, such as bullying and self-confidence, and offered names of students who could benefit from participating in the group, as well as those students who could serve as positive role models. With help from the administration team and the school social workers, I began to hold a girls support group once a week during lunch.

We have eight 6th grade girls in the group and they are full of fire and passion and LOVE TO TALK. During our first meeting, the social work intern and I shared our vision for the group: that it would be a safe place to talk about the difficulties of school and being a teenager and serve as a source of support and encouragement for students. We then asked each girl to write down one or two goals she had for the group, and were touched by their answers. Several of them said that they were hoping to make new friends and have an outlet to talk about the stress of school, and others shared that they wanted to learn how to be a better friend and how to make the school a safer, more positive place to be.

In the second meeting of girls’ group, we talked about the pervasiveness of gossip and bullying in our school. Each girl shared a personal story of how she had been hurt by something someone said to or about her, or how she had hurt someone else with her actions or words. Each student expressed that she wanted to learn how to stand up to bullies without being afraid of being verbally attacked or becoming the next target. They promised to pay more attention to when their classmates are being bullied and to intervene with kindness and positive words.

Later that week, I was monitoring the halls during passing time when I overheard some students poking fun at one of the girls in the girls group. They were teasing her about her hair and outfit while she was getting books from her locker. Two of the other group members overheard and went up to the bullies and asked them to please stop and to keep their opinions to themselves, without it becoming a huge confrontation. They waited for their friend to close her locker, and then the three linked arm and arm and walked each other to class.

[From “Voices From the Field: Reflections from Minnesota Alliance With Youth’s AmeriCorps Promise Fellows.” Fall 2014.]

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