“I will never attend an anti-war rally; if you have a peace rally, invite me.”
— Mother Teresa
Bullying continues to be a huge issue in schools, work places, and even in neighbourhood gatherings. We are often asked how we deal with bullying at Riverbend Academy.
As the quote from Mother Teresa implies, anti- anything campaigns do not work. We have adopted a different mindset from the public system. Rather than anti-bullying pledges that are often just ignored and punishing bullies, we work on the root of the bullying problem.
Studies have shown that bullying stems from low self-esteem and lack of self-respect on the part of the bully. Bullies may appear confident in their bluster and violence but are actually lacking in confidence. Bullies try to build themselves up by pushing others down. “If I can’t be better than you, I’ll make sure you are worse than me,” is the flawed thinking of the bully.
Traditionally, schools have attempted to stop bullying by punishing the bullies. In effect, making the bullies angrier and even more likely to retaliate next time someone isn’t looking.
The chief flaw in this approach is that simply punishing the bully is not going to change their mindset, improve their self-esteem, or give them the tools to interact in a more productive manner. In other words, solve the true problem.
Our approach works at the root of the issue, using teaching rather than punishment. We work to change the bully’s thinking, increase their self-esteem, their confidence, and their self-respect. We use programs like the Virtues Project, Emotional Intelligence, and our 3Rs of Riverbend to achieve these goals.
With smaller class sizes and a concentration on good moral and ethical character development, we build up self-esteem. All our programs work on building confidence, self-respect, tolerance, and empathy in the bully. We teach students that they can be better people and can actually be stronger and achieve more by helping another to rise above rather than walking over them. As the bully recognizes his own skills, finds his passions, and develops his character, he learns his own self-worth. With that confidence in his own abilities, he learns to help others, pulling them up, and empowering others.
It is a change in mindset. It is not the easy solution, it takes time and effort, but it becomes a permanent solution.
And there is no better advocate for the program than a reformed bully who now has the self-respect and can look themselves in the mirror and say “I like myself”.