Washington Family Magazine : October 2015
12 October 2015 washingtonFAMILY.com Give youth a voice and exercise your own voice, too. Harassment, intimidation and bullying behaviors among children and youth are a peer phenomenon, so kids are usually reluctant to talk with adults about it. Families and schools need to build in times and structures to help facilitate youth talking about their experiences, both positive and negative. Young people need to feel like they have an adult to whom they can turn if they are the target of bullying. They also need ways to feel safe expressing concerns about their peers’ bad behavior. 5. What to do? Families and schools can create the conditions for youth voice by developing and reinforcing widely-shared, positive social norms (core ethical values), providing ways for all students to make valued contributions to the well-being of others, and implementing programs that regularly give youth a chance to speak their minds in a safe environment. Ask your kids how things are going at school, and stay tuned for signs of trouble with peers. Let them know directly and indirectly that they are not alone and you are available to help them. Encourage them to be kind to others who are different than they are. Let teachers and school officials know you support their bullying prevention efforts and programs, and hold them accountable for responding with care and appropriate consequences when bullying occurs. Philip Brown, PhD, is resident expert on character education for Wear the Cape and thekidkind foundation. Wear the CapeTM donates 10 percent of its net profits for apparel and gear to the kidkind foundation, which is a registered 501 (c)(3) charity dedicated to restoring the power of kindness and heroic character. Dr. Brown is also a senior consultant at the National School Climate Center and a Fellow of the Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology at Rutgers University where he founded and directed the Center for Social and Character Development.