With bullying on the increase, and the number of suicides on the increase in recent years, the need for another approach to bullying is becoming more apparent.
Using Play to Fight Bullying
Statistics show that one in four kids are bullied, between cyberbullying and bullying at school – illustrating a huge problem with bullying in the school system.
One organisation that has taken another approach to bullying, with huge success, is Playworks. Believing that play has the power to bring out the best in every child, Playworks, the non-profit organisation, has been working with thousands of children in schools for almost two decades now, creating a safe space where all kids feel included and build essential skills, particularly during break time.
Why the need for structured play? Traditionally, children used to spend much more time playing, but due to increased use of technology, in addition to safety concerns that result in some children staying indoors at break, there has been little space to develop playing skills. Also, with the increase in bullying in recent years, and with much of that being reported from yard time, a need to protect children, in addition to educating them on how to behave with each other, has become apparent.
By creating a culture of inclusion at break, Playworks helps stop bullying before it begins.
Catastrophic Effects of Bullying
The effect of bullying on children can be catastrophic. At the very least, a bullied child can suffer from self esteem issues, and at the very worst, can suffer from severe mental health issues and substance abuse. The number of reports of young people taking their lives due to bullying is also on the increase.
How Playworks Fights Bullying
Shauna McDonald, Executive Director of Playworks says that while kids don’t think of Playworks as an anti-bullying program, their teachers report significantly less bullying behavior during recess. “By creating a culture of inclusion at break, Playworks helps stop bullying before it begins. That’s because when all kids have opportunities for safe, healthy play, they can develop the social and emotional skills – like self-management and social awareness – that make bullying behaviors less likely to occur.â€
With Playworks, one coach is allocated to a school, or in some cases, teachers are coached by Playworks coaches to carry out the Playworks program. Throughout break, the coach provides structured play, which ensures that each and every child is included (something that rarely happens in the playground!), and gives them an essential opportunity to connect with other children, to feel included, and to become stronger physically, emotionally and socially. It also helps to build a culture of inclusivity, enabling the children to contribute on the playground, in the classroom, and to their communities, fostering greater independence and leadership among children.
Learning Respect and Empathy to Tackle Bullying
Through learning respect and conflict resolution, in addition to building their own confidence, the occurrence of bullying has been proven to be reduced through Playworks. In one of the most rigorous trials to find a resolution on bullying, researchers from Mathematica Policy Research and Stanford University found that Playworks can transform students and schools, paving the way for less bullying. The study found that teachers at the Playworks schools agreed that Playworks reinforces positive behavior during recess (96%), helped students stay out of trouble (91%), and provided positive experiences for students during recess (99%). Teachers in Playworks schools reported significantly less bullying and exclusionary behavior (43%) during break than non-Playworks teachers.
In a world where the focus is more and more on academic and personal achievement, Playworks, for that hour, embraces what children do best – play, while transforming break time into a valuable developmental and fun time for every single child.
Make that change in your community today by signing up for Playworks on ChangeX.