Over the past few weeks, I’ve been working hard with a fantastic team to prepare for our pilot launch of A Culture of Civility, a comprehensive bullying prevention program for 6-12 schools. I’ve long been passionate about finding more innovative and high-impact ways to address bullying in schools for two main reasons.
First, I was bullied heavily in late elementary school and middle school, so I know first hand the short-term and long-term effects bullying can have on young people. Second, as a diversity and inclusion consultant, I’ve seen too many times with the way that bullying prevention approaches (whether formal or informal) treat bullying as if it is some sort of general problem requiring general solutions.
Quite to the contrary, bullying is a specific problem of student diversity that varies drastically from school to school. In some schools, students might be more likely to be targeted for their race or their sexual orientation. In other schools, students might be more likely to be targeted for their ability or disability. Still in other schools, students might be targeted for their weight or body image or family income.
The point here is that there cannot be a “one size fits all” approach to bullying. It does not and cannot exist! Schools need to design school-specific interventions to their school-specific manifestations of bullying that bring the entire community on board.