Schools across the country are struggling with an epidemic. This epidemic is nothing new, yet it seems to be intensifying in recent years. What is it? It’s bullying others within the school. This may be because a child looks different, acts different, or something else completely unrelated. Many times, it may be due to their cultural or religious beliefs, or perhaps their sexual identification. Whatever the reason, bullying is indeed an epidemic that teachers and other school professionals are witnessing more than ever before in US schools. Thanks to this, many students have a difficult time concentrating in the classrooms and many report feeling uncomfortable and even not welcomed because of the lack of support.
Many schools have had “character education” on their radar in the past. Now many are not only implementing new character education programs from elementary age on up, they are connecting them into their code of conduct. Character education is a must for all schools. Leaders from within a school district need to work together to get a program that fits the needs of your individual students. There may be programs out there that you can purchase, but it may be better to start a committee to write one for your specific needs.
A character education committee should include a wide variety of individuals from the school community. Administrators, teachers, special education advocates, social workers, school counselors, student representatives from a variety of grade levels, and parents are some examples that need to be part of the team. This team should determine which areas within the district’s schools require character education support. Perhaps it is understanding and supporting the LGBTQ students in the upper grades. It may be helping younger students from another country that practice different cultural beliefs to feel welcome within the community.
No matter what each individual’s needs are, the main goal is to teach students how to be kind and respectful of others. All children need to be able to accept differences among their peers and embrace them. The more they know and are aware, the better they can stand up and help a friend who is being bullied or targeted by hate. When everyone within the school district practices this kind of understanding, it will become more natural for all students. Reach out to local resources to see if they may be of help. Many are ready and willing to give information to set up character education programs and additional resources to assist students of all ages.