using social emotional learning (sel) to stop bullying - SFK

dev.sfk.org

using social emotional learning (sel) to stop bullying - SFK

USING

SOCIAL

EMOTIONAL

LEARNING (SEL)

TO STOP

BULLYING

HEATH GRANT, Ph.D. / Success for Kids

MARYBETH GASMAN, Ph.D. / University of Pennsylvania

ROBI LUDWIG, PSY. D. / care.com

ROBERT-WAYNE HARRIS / Superintendent of Schools / Roosevelt Union Free School District

www.sfk.org


Research says that

THIRTY

PERCENT

OF YOUNG

PEOPLE IN

U.S. SCHOOLS

ARE INVOLVED

IN BULLYING

Until the 1970s, bullying was ignored as a subject of

research and action. Bullying was considered a “rite of

passage” and not a problem by those working in schools.

Interest in the profound problem spiked in the 1990s with

the Columbine shootings, pushing many states to adopt

anti-bullying programs. To date, forty-two states have

implemented anti-bullying legislation.

Among victims of bullying, boys are more likely to experience

physical violence, whereas girls are more likely to suffer from

verbal insults, rumors, and ostracism. Victims of bullying

endure low self-esteem, depression, suicidal thoughts, and

long-term psychological effects. They also have difficulty

with their academics, often skip school to avoid interaction

with bullies, and develop poor eating habits. On the other

hand, bullies are typically poor performers in school and

have a greater likelihood of involvement with drugs, crime,

and gangs. Of note, some female bullies, unlike their male

counterparts, are popular, do well in school, and are sometimes

friends with the girl they are bullying. Bullying is especially

problematic for gay and lesbian students, with one study

showing that over 65 percent of these students do not feel safe

in their schools. Moreover, in recent years, cyber bullying has

become more prevalent and has resulted in suicides.

Although bullying is on the rise, there are strategies that

can reduce it. Within the home environment, parental

involvement and warmth toward children has been found to

reduce the risk. In particular, parents need to teach their children,

especially their girls to speak up and challenge bullying

behavior. Within the school setting, parental involvement

is also important, as well as an awareness of the bullying

problem and concerted anti-bullying efforts on the part of

teachers, administrators and peers. Comprehensive programs

that are integrated into the overall school curriculum are

essential to creating an environment that rejects bullying.

Social Emotional Learning is one such approach (SEL).

“Social and emotional competence is the ability to understand,

manage and express the social and emotional aspects of one’s

life in ways that enable the successful management of life

tasks such as learning, forming relationships, solving everyday

problems, and adapting to the complex demands of growth and

development.” (Elias et. atl.1997)

There is a growing body of knowledge that demonstrates that

Social Emotional Learning is the missing piece that allows

young people to be successful in improving their academic

performance as well as future success as individuals and

members of society. It is not enough to just “feed the mind”

of our youth; they need more to face life’s challenges.

“ BEFORE SUCCESS FOR KIDS (SFK), I DIDN’T KNOW WHAT TO DO

IN A CHALLENGING TIME. I WOULD BE SO CONFUSED. I DIDN’T

KNOW THERE WAS A BETTER CHOICE. SFK HAS MADE ME A

BETTER PERSON. IN EVERY LESSON I LEARNED MORE AND

MORE. SFK TAUGHT ME ALL ABOUT LETTING GO OF REACTIVE

BEHAVIORS AND MADE ME FEEL HAPPIER.”

SELMA, A participant in an SFK program

WITH

13 PERCENT

OF THOSE

STUDENTS

BEING BULLIES,

10.6 PERCENT

BEING VICTIMS,

AND 6.3 PERCENT

BEING VICTIMS

TURNED BULLIES.

www.sfk.org | 2


SEL involves a process through which children learn to recognize

and manage their emotions. This process enables them to make

positive choices that produce results that they desire and that

benefit them for a lifetime. These choices involve caring about

themselves and others, behaving responsibly, and developing positive

relationships with others.

Bullying is often caused by a lack of connectedness to others and

to one’s school. SEL programs help children to see that their

actions matter and that their choices can shape both their own lives

and the lives of others. This self-awareness results in a sense of

social responsibility that is antithetical to bullying. These skills and

protective factors are essential to stopping bullying. SEL programs

give bullying victims the necessary coping skills and optimism to put

the negative experience in perspective.

A lack of empathy also plays a significant role in bullying behavior.

SEL programs encourage children to look at all perspectives in

situations and to consider how others are made to feel when bullied.

To achieve a sense of empathy, SEL programs encourage students

to think about how they feel in similar bullying situations. SEL also

helps children to find similarities they share with other children,

even those who they might want to bully or who bully them.

ACTION STEPS:

• Educators and school administrators must be taught how

to recognize the signs of bullying and must be empowered

to confront bullying when it happens.

• State anti-bullying programs need to be funded properly.

Too often these programs are supported in name only, with

state legislatures neglecting to provide the monies that are

needed to create true action against bullying.

• School districts should consider making Social

Emotional Learning curricula a required component

of children’s school experience, both in the formal

curricula as well as the co-curricula. SEL can be infused

in school-wide activities and disciplinary processes in

meaningful ways that confront and combat bullying.

• Educators should be provided with the tools, resources

and skills in Social Emotional Learning that are required

to address and successfully combat bullying and other

social and emotional concerns.

• Schools should provide parent workshops to

teach them effective strategies for proactively

preventing bullying. Research has found that

higher parental support is associated with less

involvement across all forms of bullying.

SOCIAL EMOTIONAL

LEARNING HELPS

STUDENTS TO:

• Improve positive behavior and reduce

negative behavior

• Improve academic performance

• Improve their attitude

toward school

• Prepare for success in the workforce,

in terms of leadership, communication

and facing challenges

• Avoid high risk behaviors, such as early

sexual activity, truancy, depression, violence,

and drug use

“ SEL is a process that many school districts

are now using to provide students with the knowledge,

understanding, and skills necessary to enhance their

learning, encourage positive behavior, promote

constructive social relationships, and to address

their academic needs. I am a huge supporter of SEL

programs in my district as a method of combating

social issues such as bullying by teaching our students life

skills and character education, and by providing them with

the appropriate interventions needed to

confront their day-to-day challenges, stresses,

frustrations, conflicts, and peer pressure.”

ROBERT-WAYNE HARRIS

Superintendent of Schools

Roosevelt Union Free School District

Long Island, New York

www.sfk.org | 3


“ PARENTS HAVE NOTICED A REMARKABLE

DECLINE IN PHYSICAL FIGHTS AT OUR SCHOOL AND

HAVE NOTED AN OVERALL IMPROVEMENT

IN STUDENT BEHAVIOR AND

INTERACTION.”

MS. ALONSO, Principal,

talking about a social-emotional learning curriculum.

“ I HAVE LEARNED NOT

TO LISTEN TO PEOPLE

WHO ARE TELLING ME

INSULTING THINGS.

I DON’T WORRY WHAT

OTHER PEOPLE THINK.

I BECAME A SWEETER PERSON.

I KNOW THAT IT’S NOT GOOD TO

ARGUE OVER SOMETHING DUMB.”

MATTHEW, A participant in an SFK program

Success for Kids, Inc. (SFK),

an international non-profit organization, is dedicated to empowering at-risk children

and adolescents to become resilient, productive citizens by delivering innovative researchbased

programs that enhance four personal strengths (interpersonal skills, emotional intelligence,

problem solving skills and self-sufficiency) and give students a greater sense of

purpose in their lives. With a dedicated staff of more than 100, SFK is the largest international

social emotional learning organization in the world. Since its inception in 2001,

SFK has provided more than $25 million in programmatic support having an impact on

more than 60,000 children and adolescents. SFK is a 501(c) (3), tax-exempt organization.

www.sfk.org | 4

Similar magazines