The goal of this curriculum is to educate children in grades K-5 about bullying and cyberbullying, and to raise their awareness about how these behaviors impact children. It utilizes both Teacher-As-Educator and Peer Learning Models. Interactions between grades, intended to dispel stereotypes and promote social pressures to model appropriate behaviors, occur in the curriculum in kindergarten, first grade, fourth grade, and fifth grade. The curriculum also teaches about bystander behaviors and how these can unwittingly contribute to bullying in school and how online bullying feels and can lead to more problems in school as well. Bullying and cyberbullying are not treated separately or even as though they are significantly different. In fact, one of the goals of the curriculum is to underscore the idea that positive social behavior is important in all realms – online and offline.
Challenges this Curriculum Addresses
1. Lack of knowledge about bullying and cyberbullying
2. Secrecy and shame surrounding all types of peer abuse
3. Inadvertent and overt peer support for bullying behaviors
4. Lack of understanding about the protective role of friendships
5. Overuse of the terms “bullying” and “cyberbullying” (i.e., referring to all or most behavioral conflicts as "bullying")
6. Commonly-accepted myths, especially about online interactions (e.g., "It’s no big deal if it's just on the computer")
The Curriculum contains the following:
TEN lessons for each grade: K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
a. Most lessons are designed to be taught by the classroom teacher. They may be taught by others (e.g., counseling or psychological staff) but the teacher should be present during the lessons, or at the very least should review the Lesson Plan so they can help apply learned principles during the interim prior to the next lesson.
b. Some lessons involve interactions between older and younger classes of students.
c. Lessons are timed to take between 25 minutes to 1.5 hours, depending upon the age of students and the length of discussion engaged in by students and permitted by the classroom teacher.
Discussion and Opinions. In several places, the Curriculum encourages children to discuss their thoughts about bullying and cyberbullying. The purpose of these discussions is not so much to convey specific points of knowledge as it is to reduce the secrecy surrounding abusive behaviors and to encourage children to recognize the similarity between their own experiences and those of their peers.
Learning From Older Peers. In addition to conventional adult-led lessons, this Curriculum takes advantage of children’s developmentally appropriate interest in learning from slightly older peers. The purpose is to promote positive anti-bullying modeling by older students and positive social relationships between children of different ages (which in turn promotes a positive social climate).
Emphasis on the emotional impact of bullying and cyberbullying on targets, bystanders and eggers, the purpose of which is to make any justification and minimization of bullying and cyberbullying more difficult.
Emphasis on bystander undermining of bullying, rather than on active confrontation. In the abstract, children generally endorse the position that bystanders should take aggressive action by confronting bullies. However, research has found that in real situations, children who witness bullying very rarely feel able to directly take any action, such as confronting a bully or openly siding with a victim. (The same, incidentally, is true of adults.) Thus, urging children to take direct action may not only be futile but may actually reinforce children’s sense of failure or their perceptions that adults “don’t get it.” For this reason, this Curriculum teaches children to undermine the position of bullies by refusing to be an audience of bystanders, by helping targets, and by alerting adults. Of paramount importance is that they become aware that their bystander behavior may inadvertently contribute to, and support, bullying by providing an audience.
Among older elementary students, there is an emphasis on student direction and student leadership in addressing bullying and cyberbullying among peers.
Detailed descriptions of bullying and cyberbullying. Children both learn about and produce definitions and descriptions, the purpose of which is to promote thought about what is and what is not bullying (and to reduce confusion and overuse of the term).
For the Kindergarten, First, Fourth, and Fifth grade lessons, classes will need to “pair up” with a “buddy class” for the final three lessons. Kindergarten classes should pair up with a Fifth grade class. First grade classes should pair up with a Fourth grade class.
The purpose of these “paired” Lessons is to
· Reinforce peer modeling and peer values to younger children.
· Reinforce to older elementary students their responsibility as older peers.
· Permit student-engaged activities across grades.
· Promote positive social relationships between children in different age groups.
The Fourth and Fifth Grade Curricula include preparation for the “paired” lessons.