During the school year, teachers and counselors work with students to promote positive self-esteem and overall emotional well-being. Students participate in activities and discussions about the importance of respecting others and their rights to feel safe at school. They are encouraged to treat others with kindness and respect differences while embracing the qualities that make them unique.
For younger students, some lessons and discussions are about being able to express and handle their emotions, treating others the way they want to be treated, and voicing their concerns to a trusted adult when they feel unsafe in a situation. Role-playing activities are sometimes to practice skills that will help them solve problems they may encounter with peers.
Bridget Tamez is a fifth-grade teacher at Ruben Hinojosa Elementary in Mercedes. She says that her school has two upcoming counseling events for selected fifth-graders, and speakers will help promote a positive self-image for the students.
For both lower and upper elementary grades, required lessons include bullying awareness and prevention to help keep students safe.
“Our counselor, for the past few years, has been visiting the elementary school classrooms to give lessons that inform the students about David’s Law, how to identify bullying, and also strategies for dealing with it and for preventing it,” Tamez said. “Teachers also give lessons about cyberbullying and how to recognize and address it.”
David’s Law was passed in Texas in 2017. According to the David’s Legacy website, some of its key points include:
- Allowing schools to prevent and combat cyberbullying by empowering themselves to investigate and address incidents regardless whether they occurred within the school setting or elsewhere
- Requiring districts to include cyberbullying in their district policies and notify parents if their child has been a victim
- Allowing schools to collaborate with law enforcement when serious cyberbullying incidents occur
- Giving parents and courts new tools to protect victims of cyberbullying
- Encouraging schools to invest in counseling and rehabilitation services for victims and aggressors of bullying
“Strategies that students are encouraged to use when they encounter a bullying situation include tell an adult, tell the bully to stop, walk away if the situation is not safe, and stand up for others (if you are a bystander),” Tamez said. “Our district requires that teachers complete a yearly online training called Bullying Recognition and Response. It teaches us to be proactive in our approach to bullying by identifying it when we see it and addressing the problem promptly with zero tolerance (following school policy). All staff play a key role in keeping our students safe.”
It is very important that students recognize that they also play a key role in bullying prevention. Schools can help build awareness on coping with and handling stress, emotions, and conflict resolution. These lessons are invaluable in helping students enjoy a positive experience at school.