Posts Tagged ‘Bystanders – How to UnMake A Bully’

12,000 Students a Year Change Schools Due to Bullying

November 4, 2013




Changing schools used to be a rarity when we were students. Nowadays it seems it has become not only extremely common, but in many cases a survival technique:

Thousands of parents are taking their children out of schools because of severe bullying, a Mail on Sunday investigation has found.

More than 2,000 parents who applied to transfer their children to new schools in just 28 local authority areas in the last school year gave bullying as the reason. The figures would rise to 12,000 if extrapolated across the UK.

The findings have dismayed school heads and campaigners. Charities blame 40 per cent of suicides among 11 to 14-year-olds on bullying.

The new figures were compiled from freedom of information requests to 150 local authorities for a breakdown of the reasons parents gave on ‘in year application forms’ for wanting to move their child during the school year.

While most councils said they did  not keep this information, 28 revealed that 2,300 parents said they were changing schools because of bullying.

North East Lincolnshire said 173 applications out of 2,217 cited bullying, while in Essex it was 444 out  of 12,695 and in Nottingham 131 out  of 3,424.

If this were replicated across the country, about 12,000 parents applied to move their children for that reason during the past school year.


Schools must work on bully proofing their environment as quickly as possible. Instead of waiting for the problem to arise they must offer an environment that acts as a disincentive for negative behaviours. They must offer alternatives to bullying by teaching good communication skills, anger management methods, problem solving tips and ensuring that its teachers are eager to help their students sort through problems that may arise.

The following series of films is sure to help achieve these goals.


Report Shows that Anti-Bullying Programs Actually Cause Bullying

October 10, 2013


It’s so easy to read a report that claims that anti-bullying programs actually increases incidents of bullying and throw your hands up in despair. But the truth is, that it isn’t the principle of teaching such skills to our students that is the problem it is the strength of the material and how its core messages are backed up within the school culture.

A major issue for school anti-bullying programs are that they are conducted in the classroom. The classroom in many cases has a stigma and therefore it is hard to find a program that doesn’t feel like more schoolwork. Additionally, many such programs feel preachy, saccharine and completely out of touch with the lives and interests of the student population. Lastly, teaching students to value and respect others is extremely difficult to pull off in an environment where many students feel undervalued and disrespected. How do you get students to respect others when they have trouble respecting themselves?

In other words, it is the range of programs that is to blame, not the principle of teaching children how to treat each other. That’s why I was fortunate in 2011 to discover what I believe to be the most refreshing, innovative and groundbreaking addition to what has become a tired and listless genre. A series of anti-bullying films entitled How to UnMake a Bully is, from my experience, able to speak to school aged children in a way nothing I have come accross ever has. Amongst other important life skills, it focuses on strategies for supporting victims of bullying, helping bullies change, empowering bystanders, reacting to low and high grade bullying scenarios, creating a schoolyard united stance on bullying, respecting others and ones self and adapting to change. My love for these movies and the way in which my students have responded to them have made a world of difference to my students’ lives and actions. So much so, that their fan letters and a subsequent Skype session with the cast and crew led to their participation in one of the upcoming films in this extraordinary series.

Instead of feeling despondent about anti-bullying programs, please watch these films (which I have posted below for your convenience) with your students. It will entertain and move them, whilst also setting a framework for increased communication, awareness and overall empowerment.


Finally an Anti-Bullying Resource that Works

June 26, 2012

I have just watched the second installment of the How to Unmake a Bully trilogy with my students. The second film focusses on the topical issue of Bystanders. It has always been difficult for teachers to motivate bystanders to act. The standard anti-bullying programs and resources don’t measure up to this brilliant piece of film-making.

It only took twelve days for teacher Mike Feurstein and a cast of elementary students from Glendaal Elementary School to shoot this movie. From the extraordinary shot of a child with cafeteria tray in hand being rejected from every table he tries to sit at to the chilling scene where a bystander gets the courage to speak out against a bully, this film speaks to children in a way other resources fail to.

I watched the film with my students and they were enthralled, They even gave it a standing ovation during the closing credits. This is a tribute to Mike’s well drawn characters and his use of comic and superhero references. The idea that children have the very same super powers they pretend to posses during role play situations is a stroke of genius.

Here is a movie that is perceptive, knowing, vibrant, beautifully constructed and shot and will get your students reflecting about their experiences, behaviour and future choices. Throw away your old tired resources and bring these films into your classroom.

(I suggest you show them the first film in the series, How to Unmake a Bully, before you show them Bystanders – How to UnMake A Bully, Volume 2 ).

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