Lansdowne Public School and Valley View Public School have teamed up to deliver an innovative bullying prevention program.
Called Dare to Care, the program is currently being piloted by Rainbow District School Board in 12 schools across Sudbury, Espanola and Manitoulin Island.
With modules for students, professional learning for staff, and resources for parents/guardians, Dare to Care engages the entire school community to work towards a common goal – transforming the silent majority into the caring majority.
“Dare to Care engages the whole school community, which is important in shifting the overall culture of the school,” said director of education Bruce Bourget, in a press release.
“We want all schools to be places of learning where students feel safe in warm and welcoming environments. When students have a strong sense of belonging at school, they are ready to achieve their full potential.”
Students learn about the importance of being kind, the difference between bullying and mean moments, tattling versus asking for help, and standing up for yourself and others.
Prevention and intervention strategies focus on social emotional learning with an emphasis on empathy. Through the program, all stakeholders — including administrators, teachers, support staff, parents/guardians and students — should gain a deeper understanding of bullying, and, more importantly, develop tools to create a caring community.
In all modules from kindergarten to Grade 8, Dare to Care teaches children that not every unkind word or action is bullying. The program begins by instilling a common definition of bullying and a common language around bullying behaviour.
Students gain skills to de-escalate situations and more effectively report incidents of bullying. A student can ask a bully to STOP (twice) in a calm voice, then walk away and seek adult assistance with three simple words: “Please help me!” Adults are trained to listen carefully when they hear these words.
According to school administrators, response to Dare to Care has been positive.
“The overall atmosphere in the school is different,” says Valley View Public School Principal Brenda Carr. “Being kind sparks joy. When the need arises, they help each other move back to the top of the kindness meter. Students have a remarkable ability to empathize at a young age.”
“The entire school community now has a common language and shared understanding of what bullying is and, more importantly, what it isn’t,” said Lansdowne Public School Principal Jennifer Harvey. “Students can self-reflect on whether an incident is a mean moment, normal conflict or bullying. They also know bullying is not acceptable and will be addressed.”
Lansdowne and Valley View have taken a whole school approach to implementation, with weekly assemblies for primary (K to 3), junior (4 to 6) and intermediate (7 and 8) students. School-wide delivery ensures consistency and shows students they have a strong circle of caring adults by their side.