October is National Bullying Prevention Month and, while we believe that bullying prevention and intervention has to be a focus in our schools, communities and homes, year round, we do appreciate the focus that our friends at Pacer’s National Bullying Prevention Center have brought through this effort. We particularly like that the month focuses on prevention.
Too often our policies and actions in schools and communities seem to focus on responses to bullying rather than prevention, yet effective prevention efforts can create benefits far beyond bullying to academic achievement, attendance, job satisfaction for teachers, and so much else. That’s because prevention tends to align with strategies to improve school climate and build real learning communities.
Building community is the second cornerstone theme in our Don’t Laugh at Me curriculum and gets started with a lesson on the theme song of “This Little Light of Mine.” We love this way of starting because the foundation of community is really understanding the gifts, the “little lights” that each and every person brings to each situation. Of course, that is the essence of preventing bullying too, because most bullying is based in the sense of superiority which provides a sense of power over someone else. When children begin to see what they may at first have understood to be “different” or “strange” as unique and valuable, the power imbalance is reduced.
Another way to think about “this little light” is to consider the idea that respect starts with respect for oneself. We can ask students to write “all the things I like about myself—my abilities, qualities and achievements.” They can share their admirable qualities with their classmates and their classmates can add to the list.
Singing “This Little Light of Mine” together can take on new meaning.
This bullying prevention awareness month, we’d love to see your pictures and videos of your class singing This Little Light of Mine and telling us all about their lights! Post them to our Facebook page or send them (assuming you have parental permission!) to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.