Preventing Bullying in Your Classroom
More than one in five students reports having been bullied at school. 33% of these students said the bullying took place once or twice a month. Bullying behaviors included name calling, insults, spreading of rumors, physical violence and exclusion from activities. Bullying takes place everywhere - in school hallways and stairways, classrooms, school grounds, school buses and in bathrooms and locker rooms.
These are scary statistics! But the good news is that school-based bullying prevention programs decrease bullying by up to 25%. This month has been designated National Bullying Prevention Month, so it’s a good time to focus on this issue in your classroom.
There are many resources online for discussing bullying in the classroom, but most of them are focused on secular classes. We would like to propose that you teach about bullying from a Torah perspective. Torah Live’s presentation The Power of Speech is a perfect jumping off point for a discussion on how our speech affects others. (This presentation includes The Power of Words and the beloved shmiras halashon film, The Lost Light.)
You can show the film in sections, with a discussion after each one, or show the full film in one go and then dedicate a serious chunk of time to analysis and discussion.
Some questions you can ask your students:
- Why are there halachos about how we speak to each other?
- What can you learn from the facial expressions of the characters who are spoken to meanly or who overhear themselves being talked about?
- How do the listeners in the films encourage the talkers?
- Why are people who speak nicely about others held responsible when the listener turns it around and responds negatively?
- Why do some kids become bullies? How can you prevent that from happening to your friends?
- How can we change the conversations in our class?
- When is it OK to “tattletale”?
Once you’ve discussed bullying with your students, you can assign a project to drive the point home. Kids can decorate the classroom with anti-loshon hara and bullying posters or put on a play for the rest of the school on this subject. Download the Chofetz Chaim prayer and post it on the bulletin board in your classroom.