Refusing to tolerate bullying
Glenwood Springs Elementary School counselor has students role-play standing up to bullies through prevention program
Ending bullying requires standing up for what’s right, Susan Mount told fifth graders at Glenwood Springs Elementary School recently.
The skewed ratio between adults and students in schools makes it important for young people to know how to approach and resolve conflict, particularly instances of bullying. Mount said there are 500 of them and only 40 adults, it becomes their responsibility to stand up for what is right.
“When I showed them the visual of that they were like ‘Wow, I have more power than the staff do,’” Mount, a school counselor at GSES said.
Mount is in her 13th year as a counselor, but her eighth at GSES, and just wrapped up teaching a week-long bullying prevention course for the fifth-grade class. Mount said she taught the kids that there are four different types of bullying: physical, verbal, exclusion and cyber. To help them practice what to do or say in these scenarios Mount worked with them on some role-playing exercises and on writing individual refusal statements.
“The refusal statement is what you say to actually refuse the bullying…I’ve really just seen how hard it can be to stand up, even though you want to…we did have an incident where a kid did try to use his refusal statement on the playground and he was just like, ‘oh my god Miss. Mount it was really hard,’ and then just how the other kids received his refusal statement,” Mount said.
Mount provided some examples of the refusal statements a few of her students came up with.
“Hey that’s bullying, those that go low are already below you,” Kevin Ramos said.
“This is bullying, stop. How would you like if you were treated this way?” Rian Kelly said.
“Bro stop that’s not cool, it’s bullying,” Diego Caraveo said.
“Yo bro STOP! This is not cool, it’s bullying,” Ashley Roggie said.
Mount said the application process of her lesson helps replicate what that situation might feel like for kids when they encounter it. The three R’s to remember when dealing with bullies are recognize, report and support, and refuse.
“A lot of the kids their first reaction is…’I wanna kick him’ and we really have to say but then it’s a bully on top of a bully, so the refusal statement has no put-downs, it’s not violent but it says that you are against bullying,” Mount said.
The skills Mount teaches students in the classroom about standing up for others and themselves to bullies when put into action can have a positive, domino-effect on those around them, Mount said. She also said she hopes doing this kind of work at such a young age will begin to change the culture around bullying, and that a message she leaves with the students is that if someone bullies them it’s likely that person will keep doing it to others if no one stands up to them.
“I think it happens and no one ever stands up. What we’re finding is when one kid does it, it really helps the other kids, it helps them to feel empowered. So I think that was kind of the message– when you start doing it it helps other kids to see that they can do it too, and it kind of breaks that cycle and sets a precedent that we don’t tolerate it.”
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Prospective candidates are being sought for two open Carbondale/Basalt-area Roaring Fork Schools Board of Education seats that will be up for election Nov. 2 for four-year terms.