Something important happened at West Bristol K-8 School this week.
On Tuesday, Bristol Press reporter Susan Corica told us that the school was giving children as young as 5 the tools to handle bullies - both those who attempt to intimidate the student or those who would hurt their friends.
Only a lucky few of us have escaped the pain and humiliation that comes from being the target of a bully; we know how hurtful and intimidating even words can be - but often, even as adults, we don’t know how to stop them.
A daylong program at West Bristol, dubbed “Brave Day,’ offered tools and support at each grade level.
Just bringing the topic out into the open is an important step forward. Children in an earlier era - yours? - were simply told to “stand up for yourself” or “tough it out.” But we know now that that advice doesn’t mean much without the tools to handle what can be a very scary situation.
“We started Brave Day because we felt we needed kids to learn how to have a voice,” Principal Michelle LeVasseur explained. “It’s getting the message out about what does it mean to be brave, to stand up for yourself and others.”
And that starts with a simple idea, offered in a video: “This is not tattling because (the character in the video) is not trying to get someone in trouble, he wants to keep someone safe. It takes courage and hard work to be an ‘upstander’” as opposed to a bystander, the video said.
Bottom line: Every child deserves to feel safe - and that may be one of the most important lessons our schools can teach.