United Against Bullying- A Step in the Right Direction

National Bullying Prevention Day- October 10, 2012 Bailey Elementary School in Providence, RI

Did you know that more than 16,000 students in the USA stay home each day because they’re scared of being bullied? This October PACER (Parent Advocacy Coalition for Educational Rights) drew attention to the problem of bullying that affects many disabled children and young adults. By drawing attention the organization hoped to raise awareness to the fact that more needs to be done to tackle the issue.

As adults we can start this movement and show the youth that we stand up for this cause and are against bullying in our schools and our community. Prevention of this issue can start in a school and spread to the world, but we need everyone’s support. On October 8, 2012 my AmeriCorps partner and I set out to organize a school wide event in support of this cause. We created flyers and sent out an email to the entire staff at Bailey Elementary school asking them to unite for this cause by wearing orange on October 10, 2012.

Unfortunately time was not on our side and we did not have much time to prepare for this event. However we both felt so strong about this cause, we got to work right away on uniting our school. What began as a staff only event soon turned into students and the entire faculty participating. My AmeriCorps partner and I began creating orange peace circles, for those who had not worn orange to school. Our goal was to reach everyone in the school and have the entire school community united and wearing orange by the end of the day.

We created 100 circles, cut out of orange construction paper with a peace sign on one side and “unite against bullying 10-10-12” on the back. We started passing these circles out to students, staff, and anyone we saw who was not wearing orange. Soon, the word had spread and the demand for an orange peace circle had tripled. We went in to every classroom to see how many of the students had worn orange; we congratulated and thanked them for their participation. For those who didn’t have orange on, we asked if they “would like some orange to be united against bullying with the rest of their class.” With extreme excitement, they all said yes!

One by one every classroom was starting to become united and wear some type of orange. Some classrooms even started to make their own peace circle necklaces with “be a buddy not a bully”written on them. One student had made a beautiful orange crown while another had orange sneakers on!  By the end of the day we had made over 500 orange peace circles and had successfully completed our goal, the entire school was united and wearing orange. The janitor, school nurse, principal, all the teachers and every single student had worn orange and began to see the school community united for a cause. We explained to students that they should carry this idea of uniting against bullying every day, even when they are not in school or wearing orange.

We were soon flooded with student’s ideas for other “color” days for different causes. Many of the students felt this was a “good way for everyone to be the same but different in their own way”, uniting together for one cause. The next day, we observed several students still wearing their orange peace circle. Our determination, commitment and belief in this cause had spread and made an impact, possibly an impact greater than we had envisioned.

“Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” -Margaret Mead

 

Jackie McKenna & Marielba Pena
Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence

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