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Breaking the cycle of bullying
In this week’s Class Act—guest speaker Barbara Coloroso and Youth Connections are helping parents and educators to break the cycle of bullying.
Barbara Coloroso—author and educator—says there are three main characters in any bullying story: the target, the bully and the bystanders. Coloroso says her mission is to help parents and educators teach kids to stand up and speak out.
“Raising that witness-resistor and defender, that kid who is not praise-dependent and reward-dependent, who is not the bully’s henchman or who has leadership skills but mis-uses it, is the kid who will stand up for values and against an injustice,” says Coloroso.
The witness-resistor or defender is a child who has agency, knows how to think for his or her self and won’t follow someone else’s lead.
“And I want your son, when his friends say, ‘Look at that kid over there, different skin color, religion, gender physical or mental ability’—the big five for hate crimes. What makes a hate crime different from other crimes? It’s criminal bullying. ‘Let’s go mess him up.’ I want your son to be the one to say no,” says Coloroso.
“That’s our mission: to really help our community build the skills and have the tools necessary to help our kids be successful and happy,” says Drenda Niemann, Executive Director of Youth Connections. Niemann says in Helena—half of middle school students and one in four high school students have reported being bullied at some point.
Breaking the bullying cycle and kid’s success starts at home. Coloroso says bullying is a learned behavior and that parents need to honor the humanity and dignity of other people and lead by example.
She says, “We as adults have to pitch in. That’s why talking to the educators about how we have to model that witness-resistor-defender behavior, and we have to stop in its tracks anything that would fuel contempt for another human being.”
Most importantly: parents must not ignore their child’s call for help.
“Don’t minimize, rationalize and explain away—you’ve got to say to your kids, I hear you, I’m here for you, I believe in you, you’re not in this alone, there are things you can do and there are people you can tell,” says Coloroso.
Helping to stop the cycle of bullying by teaching parents and educators makes Barbara Coloroso and Youth Connections a Class Act.
To see more of Coloroso's work and handouts on bullying, click here.
Story by Jess Armstrong, Beartooth NBC.
Sponsored by Sylvan Learning Center of Helena.
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