"Bullies Beware:" Safe School Ambassador Program

By: Stephanie Luisier Email
By: Stephanie Luisier Email

It's something no parent wants their child to go through, but it happens in schools every day.
That's why there are many programs in our schools and communities with one goal: put an end to bullying.
One program being taught in Wausau schools isn't targeting bullies.
Instead, it's targeting influential student leaders in hopes that they will have the power to promote peace in their schools:

"It makes you feel really bad inside. It's like you didn't do anything to them, walking around and they make you feel like nothing."
That's why Isaac Briquelet Miller and more than 40 other 7th and 8th graders, and 10 staff members at Horace Mann Middle School are working together to put a stop to bullying.
They're taking part in the Safe School Ambassadors program developed by "Community Matters" out of California.
Bully Prevention Specialist Annette Schyadre says, “We select a group of students, leaders of their cliques, teach them about bullying, its impact and how to go about intervening and preventing it."
The students are put into groups with others they may not typically be friends with.
They re-enact real-life situations and learn how to step in when they see teasing, bullying, or other acts of cruelty.
"We have 85 percent of bystanders who generally do nothing,” says Annette. “Silence is consent, or they join in."
The ambassadors determine what acts of cruelty were committed, such as put downs, exclusion, bullying or physical cruelty.
They then work to take their own actions to help resolve the situation.
They can use techniques like reasoning with the bully or giving the target support.
Isaac tells us, “I’m going to talk with the person who's being a target and say you did really great, lift up their spirits and make them feel better."
They can also try to distract the bully, or simply be direct.
"Now I know how to take care of it. How to turn a put down into a good thing and how to keep people happy and get the bullies to stop,” says 7th grader Emma Hinker.
Bully prevention specialists say even though bullying may be common, it can't be accepted.
Annette says, “Bullying is out, it's not cool, it's not fun, and it's not a right of passage for young people."
She says not only can the actions of bullies lead to dangerous situations, they can make going to class unbearable for their targets.
"It’s an epidemic in this nation. So big that over 160,000 students every day in this country don't want to go to school. They don’t want to get up, they feel sick. So they don't want to go to school."
But after the training they've received, these safe school ambassadors believe that if they work together they can change that.
"I think if we get ambassadors together we can end it and make sure it doesn't come back because we don't want it at this school, we're really proud of our school, we don't want it to be mean, we don't want people to know us as a school with a bunch of bullies,” says Emma.
Since 2000, the Safe School Ambassadors Program has been implemented in 28 states, and has given about 5,000 adults and 60,000 students the tools they need to be peacemakers.

Click here to view information on the Safe School Ambassador Program

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