“When people hurt you over and over, think of them like sand paper. They may scratch and hurt you a bit, but in the end, you end up polished and they end up useless.” – Chris Colfer
Chris Colfer can be seen on the musically inclined TV show Glee. A show about a glee club full of diverse students who struggle to find their place in high school. Quirky, and sassy, Colfer’s character is a student who struggles to come out of the closet with fears of being tormented by his peers and other individuals at school. Similar to his real life high school experience, Colfer suffered countless amounts of bullying as an openly gay student at his high school. He told Entertainment Weekly: “I spent most of my time stuffed into lockers. Thank god for cell phones, or I’d still be in there.”
As his high school experience got worse, he eventually turned to home schooling as an escape from the torment. Flash forward a couple of years, and Colfer lands himself a starring role on the widely popular television show “Glee”. He gets cast as an individual that goes through the same issues as he did in high school, except this time, Colfer gets to experience it under spotlight. As apprehensive as he was to take in a role that would cause so much controversy, it’s safe to say that society has been opening its eyes over the last couple of years. The role of Kurt brought Colfer a sense of escape as he was finally able to let go of his high school years. He turned an incredibly bad situation from his past into fuel for a very successful life as an openly gay actor.
As of now, he poses as a role model for so many individuals dealing with bullying.
Approximately 32 percent of students report being bullied at school. Bullied students are more likely to take a weapon to school, get involved in physical fights, and suffer from anxiety and depression, health problems, and mental health problems. They suffer academically (especially high-achieving black and Latino students). And research suggests that schools where students report a more severe bullying climate score worse on standardized assessments than schools with a better climate. Educators, Parents, Guardians, and Peers all around should be practicing techniques to help stop bullying.
Five Tips to Help Principals Prevent Bullying
Effectively addressing a bullying problem requires a culture change. A true culture change takes time, but a few key steps to help principals get started:
- Practice What You Preach Don’t use your status as the school leader as the lever for change; instead, “listen before talking and reflect before acting” to ensure your staff feel valued (this is backed up by the NEA survey, which found an important predictor of adult willingness to intervene in bullying was their “connectedness” to the school, defined as their belief they are valued as individuals and professionals in the learning process).
- Assess the Extent of the Problem Survey students, staff and parents to find out how much and what type of bullying is going, as well as where and when, to target prevention efforts.
- Develop a School-wide Code of Conduct that reinforces school values and clearly defines unacceptable behavior and consequences. Empower bystanders — teachers and especially students — to help enforce it by training them to identify and respond to inappropriate behavior.
- Increase Adult Supervision Most bullying happens when adults are not present, so make sure they are “visible and vigilant” in hallways, stairwells, cafeterias and locker rooms, as well as on buses and the way to and from school for students who walk.
- Conduct Bullying Prevention Activities such as all-school assemblies, communications campaigns or creative arts contests highlighting school values to bring the community together and reinforce the message that bullying is wrong.