Stories That Will Inspire Your Bullying Prevention Efforts | By: Kim Gulbrandson Calling all social-emotional learning (SEL) and bullying prevention advocates. That’s you, teachers and administrators. Our passion and commitment to SEL matters to kids every day. When we share what works with one another, listen, exchange bullying prevention resources, ask questions, and initiate important conversations about bullying, we teach and learn from one another about how we can best provide environments where students feel safe and have skills to report and (safely) stand up to bullying. Recently I sought out teachers and administrators who are at different points in their path of supporting SEL and bullying prevention. I asked what they’d like to share with you: their learnings, journeys, and aha’s in this work. This is what they said: “I used to think bullying was an overused term that people used to refer to many behaviors. It got to the point where I just tuned it out because I heard it so often. Then I went to a district-required professional learning session on bullying. That was the first time it really struck me, that bullying is real . . . that it’s different than conflict . . . that it requires a coordinated response from adults.” (administrator) “I didn’t always know what to do about bullying. I didn’t even understand what it was. But I asked, I read, I learned. I am still learning . . . If I hadn’t done this, I’d still be contributing to the problem of bullying in our school, and the number of bullying incidents at my school would still be high.” (assistant principal) These comments highlight that to address bullying, we need to understand the difference between bullying and conflict. We must learn about the dynamics of bullying, what that looks like, and what helps to prevent bullying. “Our school put a process in place for handling bullying reports several years ago. My first bullying report came not long after. A student told me about an incident she saw between one girl and a group of girls in the hallway. I told her she did the right thing by coming to me. I think she was relieved and felt safe in telling me.” (teacher, 4th grade) “Teaching our kids what bystanders are and how to be positive bystanders . . . They have the power to help stop bullying and need to see their role in that.” (teacher, middle school) “We’ve been teaching social skills since I started at my school. The skills focus on empathy and kindness. These skills counteract bullying.” (teacher) These comments speak to social-emotional learning as a foundation for bullying prevention. Of course bullying prevention requires anti-bullying policies, procedures for responding to and handling bullying reports, and other strategies to be implemented by adults. But to ensure consistency and student safety, friendship, problem-solving, the development of bystander and other social skills is especially important to bullying prevention. Keep doing the work. It matters. Imagine a world without bullying and, like these educators, share what you know with others. Sharing is caring.