Steps to Respect: A Bully Prevention Program

Steps to Respect is a 3rd through 5th grade curriculum that addresses both bullying and healthy friendships. Classroom lessons will teach skills for making friends and handling bullying. These skills are presented within a framework of respectful, caring, and responsible actions. Our goal is to create a respectful school community that does not tolerate bullying in any form. The component on friendship skills is important as research shows that children who have at least one friend are less likely to experience bullying. Students who are bullied, but have a best friend, tend to suffer fewer harmful effects. Students learn to identify respectful behaviors, find common interests with potential friends, initiate and make casual conversation, join a group, handle rejection, forgive mistakes and manage disagreements. The component on bullying is to help students learn to recognize, refuse and report bullying. Steps to Respect’s definition of bullying is “Bullying is unfair and one-sided. It happens when someone keeps hurting, frightening, threatening, or leaving someone out on purpose”. Some of these behaviors include physically hurting or threatening to hurt someone, social exclusion, insults, name-calling, mean gossip and rumors, and inappropriately touching another student. The idea that students should fight back or ignore bullying are myths. While ignoring it might work if it’s the first time and a low-key event, it is usually ineffective. Aggression is never a solution to bullying. Recent research shows that when children respond aggressively, the bullying is more likely to last longer or get worse. It ends sooner when children use problem-solving strategies such as assertively standing up for themselves by speaking out. Research also shows that bullying decreases when adults provide consistent monitoring, consequences, and support for positive change. Successful programs teach students how to improve their friendship skills, how to respond assertively to bullying, and how to be a bystander (witness) who is part of the solution, not part of the problem. A bystander or witness is someone who knows the bullying is happening. The majority of children will witness bullying at some time. Students learn that if they see bullying happen and don’t do what they can to stop it (stand up to bully, get a teacher, report it to a teacher, help the student being bullied…), then their behavior supports the child who is bullying. Bystanders/witnesses have more power than the child(ren) doing the bullying if they do something to stop the bullying.