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Anti Bullying: From Zero Tolerance to 100% Support for Kindness

Anti Bullying: From Zero Tolerance to 100% Support for Kindness

5 Reasons why Zero Tolerance Doesn’t Work

  1. It emphasizes the behaviour you don’t want instead of what you do.
  2. It can be interpreted so many different ways from the ordinary disagreements that are a part of life, to hitting and name calling that are harmful. Many instances of over reacting and punishing innocent behaviours have been the result of this policy.
  3. It doesn’t teach students better ways to interact with others.
  4. It focuses on punishing the perceived offender but usually not on seeking restitution and teaching “offenders” the importance of making amends. The needs of the person that was harmed are often not considered.
  5. It overlooks the necessity of understanding the roots of hurtful behaviours and doesn’t develop ways to prevent bullying.

5 Ways to Reduce Bullying and Increase Genuinely Kind Behaviours

  1. Start with teachers. Teachers have a lot of power to influence children and teenagers to be kind and respectful to their peers by modeling these behaviours in all that they do –treating their students with care and concern for their overall well-being and not just for their academic progress.
  2. Treat teachers well –valuing their work for the importance it has to future generations. Parents, principals and other administrators, politicians and the general public all have a role to play in seeing that teachers are valued, well paid, and have good work environments.
  3. Teach what kindness and fairness look like and sound like through lessons that include an emphasis on critical thinking and dialogue. It is important to get below the surface kinds of ideas and slogans to supporting students to think critically about all forms of discrimination and disrespect. You want students to be genuine about their feelings and truly understand what it feels like to be bullied. An important place to start is involving students of in discussions related to the social and emotional needs of all people such as for emotional safety and the need to speak and be listened to with respect.
  4. Know what is happening in school hallways and playgrounds, and to and from school. Even in classrooms when teachers are present, hurtful behaviours happen and making knowing what’s really happening a priority takes a real commitment. Ensure that students all know that kind and respectful behaviours are a genuine priority at school. At the same time it is important to be clear that disagreements are a part of life. It is not eliminate the right to disagree, but to teach ways to do this respectfully and non violently.
  5. Develop and use a restorative justice model that shows concern for all students who might be involved in some way in bullying –those who harm, those who are harmed, and those who witness hurtful behaviours. Teach students ways to stand up for the fair and kind treatment of others and how important it is to make amends and restore harmony as much as is possible given the situation.