Breaking Down Walls

“There are no bullies, just people who bully.” -Teaching Tolerance

Bully behaviors are essentially acts of bias and intolerance because they isolate and target a group or individual based on perceived differences. In many schools, bully behaviors, including exclusion and put-downs, leave some students feeling alone and isolated. “Teaching Tolerance,” a national program sponsored by the Southern Poverty Law Center, has created a variety of activities that help students become aware of bias and intolerance and commit to breaking down walls by stepping out of the bystander position and becoming an ally or taking action.

On Monday, October 27, 2014 Middle School students participated in an activity at community lunch where they had a chance to talk with faculty and other students about how bully behavior builds walls around them. The students had prior built a wall using paper bricks on which students had written their experiences with bullying. At lunch they then broke down the wall and took bricks to their tables for discussion. As students discussed the vignettes written on the bricks (either as an aggressor, bystander, target, or ally), they wrote down practical ways they will stand up against bully behavior.

One of the most common bully situations students talked about is exclusion; most commonly when a few students have not been invited to a party. They hear what a great time everybody had at the party through social media or at school the next day. We are encouraging parents and students to be sensitive to this situation; if you have a party and choose not to invite all the girls or all the boys, please enjoy the party without the use of social media and be discreet and sensitive to others if you talk about the experience at school.