How Character Education Can Prevent Bullying

Five characteristics of character education that help prevent bullying

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Kids today are exposed to thousands of negative influences every day. Whether it’s from music, television or interactions with peers, they see subtle messages that involve violence, bullying and disrespect. As a result, kids need to know how to interpret these messages so they do not take root.

One way this is done is through character education. Character education is a teaching method that encourages the development of ethical and responsible students.

Kids are taught about good values including caring about other people, being honest, being trustworthy, showing respect and taking responsibility for their actions.

Building character at school not only helps students with their academic studies, but it also can help prevent bullying. Character education teaches kids about gaining a sense of responsibility and learning to do the right thing. Moreover, they learn how to interact with their teachers and fellow students. The result creates positive atmosphere at school and in the classrooms.  

Here is an overview of top five skills taught during character education and their impact on bullying prevention.

Show respect. When it comes to teaching character, treating others with respect is at the foundation. Kids should be encouraged to use good manners, and to refrain from cursing or using bad language. They also must learn to be considerate of other people’s feelings and to deal peacefully with others when they disagree.

If kids learn to do these things well, and learn them at a young age, they will be less likely to become bullies, mean girls or to engage in various forms of bullying.

Accept differences and be fair. Being tolerant and accepting of other people’s differences is also an important element of character education and crucial to bullying prevention.

Many times, the reasons kids are targeted by bullies vary from how they look, to how they act and even how they dress. Bullies target kids for just about any reason. Even kids with special needs and kids with food allergies are targeted by bullies. But when kids are consistently taught that we must be kind and respectful even to those people they strongly disagree with, the number of bullying incidents decreases.

Demonstrate compassion. When kids are kind, compassionate and caring, it is very unlikely they will bully other people. They also are less likely to engage in the more subtle forms of bullying like relational aggression. For this reason, raising a child’s emotional intelligence will greatly impact bullying. Moreover, when kids are compassionate, they are more likely to help others in need. So when they witness bullying, the compassionate kids may be among the first bystanders to do or say something to make it stop.

Stress trustworthiness. Lies and deceitful behavior are at the root of bullying.

Whether it is as direct as verbal bullying and name-calling or as subtle as gossip and backstabbing, being untrustworthy is one characteristic many bullies possess. To counteract this, stressing that kids are honest, that they do not deceive others or cheat on assignments will go a long way in deterring bullying. Additionally, kids need to recognize the importance of being a good friend, maintaining a good reputation and having the courage to do the right thing.

Take responsibility. When responsibility is incorporated into character education, kids learn the importance not only of doing what they are supposed to do, but also learn to take responsibility for their choices and their decisions. Responsible behavior also involves being resilient and persevering even when things are difficult. And it includes being self-disciplined and thinking before acting. When kids are taught these ideals, the hope is that they will be less likely to bully others. If they do choose to bully others, the hope is that they will take responsibility for their actions and make it right.

Overall, character education is useful because students learn how to engage and interact with other people in their community. They learn to become upstanding members of the school and to treat others with respect and dignity. And when these things occur, bullying will be greatly reduced.

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