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:
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.