MACS Anti-Bullying Program

P1000801What’s the difference between teasing and bullying? Horseplay and fighting? Sometimes these are hard lines to draw, and if you have ever wrestled with your siblings you may understand that one can easily mutate into the other. Helping children understand the differences takes more than just a lecture; it requires a conversation.

MACS has several programs underway to help students recognize bullying, the impact it can have, and what to do in situations involving bullying, one such program is the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program. Olweus has been integrated into schools worldwide since the 1990s, and the only evidence-based nationally recognized bullying prevention program. It uses class meetings to create a safe space for discussion and gives teachers an avenue to open up conversations regarding what bullying is and what to do about it.

“Bullying is aggressive behavior that is intentional and that involves an imbalance of power. Most often, it is repeated over time,” Mr. Nichols states during the eighth grade’s first classroom meeting. Olweus gives a wide range of suggestions to help gives a wide range of suggestions to help students who are being bullied from “get help from an adult” to “be a friend” and standing alongside the student being bullied.

P1000631In addition to the classroom meetings, students are learning how to be peer mediators, where students from varying grade levels are trained as arbitrators. If a non-disciplinary dispute arises, students are given the option to meet with a peer mediator in order to work together to resolve their problems. This gives students an opportunity to learn how to constructively address conflict on their own and encourages the application of conflict resolution skills.

Many of these conflict resolution skills are taught through the I Can Problem Solve (ICPS) program, discussed with Kindergarten through Second Grade at MACS Elementary. ICPS teaches children how to conceptualize and talk about their conflict, think of solutions, and predict different consequences. Part of the curriculum includes promoting prosocial behavior and understanding feelings (both their own and other’s.)

Understanding and respecting each other’s feelings is a core message of anti-bullying and conflict resolution programs, and a vital part of the pathway to becoming a caring and empathetic individual. As Mrs. McCandless talks about the new programs at MACS, she emphasizes “Everyone has a right to their feelings,” a key message bestowed upon all of the students at Manchester Academic Charter School.

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