Teaching Students to Change a Culture of Bullying

The Antioch Center for School Renewal (ACSR) at Antioch University New England (AUNE) is offering a new program, the Bullying Prevention Project, aimed at empowering students to prevent bullying. Rob Koegel, a school coach and member of ACSR’s school change faculty, has launched the project at Bellows Falls Union High School in Bellows Falls, Vermont.

Through the program, Koegel trains parents and educators to help students stop bullying in their schools. The students learn to plant seeds of safety and respect in their schools, he said. “Students are uniquely positioned to challenge cruelty and build community, yet need adult support to become effective change agents.”

Research shows that, in the United States about 160,000 schoolchildren stay home from school every day because of bullying. As for bullies, they are more likely than their peers to commit dating violence, rape, domestic violence, elder abuse, workplace harassment, alcohol and drug abuse, and other offenses throughout their lives, Koegel said. And bullying hurts bystanders as well as victims. “After years of denial, the degree of trauma to a bystander is finally being recognized,” he said.

The bullying prevention project offers a range of workshops to teachers, students, staff and parents that can run from a single workshop of two or three hours to sessions that extend over several days.

A need for training
“[Prevention training] is still so sorely needed,” Koegel said. “Research has shown that a lot of commonly used strategies are based on old myths that are often counterproductive, especially the messages we give to students. This generation of educators is being asked to take on bullying and harassment in a way that they have not been prepared for.”

Koegel will present “Empowering Bystanders: Transforming a Culture of Cruelty,” a workshop for teachers, counselors, nurses, paraprofessionals and administrators, on Friday, December 2, at the Southeast Vermont Learning Collaborative, in Dummerston. For more information, contact Koegel at 802-258-4658 or email robkoegel@aol.com.

ACSR is the service division of AUNE’s Department of Education that provides professional development for teachers in New England. Find more information about ACSR’s bullying and harassment prevention training here.