By: Eric Macias (5th/6th Grade Teacher)
When my students selected violence as the target of our grassroots campaign, we knew that, in order to be successful, we would need to put forth lots of time and effort. However, my students are more than ready to take on this endeavor. In fact, they have told me repeatedly about how excited and motivated they are to have a positive and transformative impact on their communities. This is why my students have elected to lead two grassroots campaigns this year. During the first half of the year, we will focus on ending bullying in our school community of VLA (South Loop) and, during the second half of the year, we will focus on ending violence in our residential community of West Humboldt Park. As a result, the rest of this reflection will focus on our efforts towards eradicating bullying in our school.
In order to successfully accomplish our grassroots campaign mission, we will need to partner with like-minded student groups and non-profit organizations that are already campaigning against bullying. Together, we researched a variety of anti-bullying websites and organizations, such as http://www.stopbullying.gov, http://www.bullying.org, and http://www.pacer.org/bullying/. These websites provided us with a plethora of articles, fact sheets, pamphlets and informative videos. Through our extensive research efforts, we learned about dozens of disheartening and eye-opening statistics about the causes and effects of bullying on children in America. It was clearly evident that bullying was a national problem.
While we knew that bullying was also an issue at our school, we wanted to accurately document the extent of bulling in our school. Two students suggested that we write a student survey that we could use to document bullying in grades 3-6 at our school. Our survey asked students to declare (anonymously) if they had ever been bullied and/or if they had ever bullied someone. The survey also included questions about how often these bullying incidents were occurring in the classroom. Students were also asked to describe a few bullying incidents in the form of short answer responses. After administering the survey and analyzing the results, we came to the conclusion that bullying was far too prevalent in our school. As our students noted, our survey results on the extent of bullying in our school matched national statistics and trends.
Then, we used these survey results to guide our research efforts into finding
which anti-bullying non-profit organization and like-minded student groups could help our grassroots campaign. We used Pacer’s National Bullying Prevention Center’s website as a launching pad for our research. The National Bullying Prevention Center has a very exhaustive list of anti-bullying organizations across the country. We used this list to find the organizations in our home state of Illinois that had similar missions and goals. After having many discussions, we have decided to partner with Ordo, Inc., GATE America, TrueCare and the Villa Grove School Dance Team. These organizations have led social media campaigns, school assembly programs and even chat rooms to help address the issue of bullying in schools.
After further looking into these organizations and reading about their missions and goals, we discussed extensively about how we wanted to craft our own campaign goals. This year, we have decided to structure our action plan around three important goals: (1) to inform students and families about the causes and effects of bullying, (2) to advocate for bullied students and (3) to lead our “Best Buddies” mentoring program.
To learn more about Village Leadership Academy’s school-wide approach to violence prevention, watch the video below.