ERASE Bullying Summit – Lessons Learned – Part 1

ERASE Bullying Summit

I was honoured to attend the ERASE Bullying Summit in Vancouver, BC on Tuesday, Nov 13 as a guest social media correspondent. ERASE stands for Expect Respect, and A Safe Education.

The summit brought together anti-bullying experts, educators, press, students and others to learn about the new ERASE Bullying program and the anonymous student online reporting tool that launched the same day.

I learned an incredible amount of valuable information about how we can all take action to stop bullying.

During the summit, I was furiously taking notes and tweeting quotes from both my Twitter handles @5minutesformom and @susancarraretto using the hashtag #ERASEBullying.

Also, I created a Stop Bullying Pinterest board to share many of the helpful resources related to the summit and beyond.

And we’ve created a new Stop Bullying Resource Page.

In this post, I’ll share some of my notes and what I learned from the ERASE Bullying Summit speakers. This is Part 1 and covers the morning presentations. I’ll publish Part 2 tomorrow. (Please forgive any errors as these are my notes quickly written during the fast paced presentations.)

Three Main Issues Covered At The Summit

BC Premier Christy Clark opened the summit with an overview of the issues to be discussed.

  1. How to make schools safe places to learn – Students need to know that bullies will be dealt with and have consequences for their actions and that victims will get help.
  2. How to create a culture in schools where students feel safe to stand up to a bully and to enable bystanders to stand up for the victim.
  3. How to create a society where compassion is the norm and where people stand up for each other. This includes everyone — government, parents, teachers and students.

The Premier emphasized her belief that we can do better.

ERASE — Expect Respect, and A Safe Education

Theresa Campbell explained more about the program.

There are 4 Levels of training as part of the ERASE Bullying program that they’re implementing in BC, Canada.

4 Levels of Training

Level 1 – One day for Elementary Schools
Level 2 – Basic threat and risk assessment for Secondary Schools
Level 3 – Next year – advanced threat and risk assessment
Level 4 – 2014 – Train the trainer of the work that’s happening now

In implementing this training program, they will focus on building capacity and sustainability by “training the trainers”.

Goal of Connectedness

Through surveys and discussions with students, it’s become clear that students want to feel an increased connectedness in their school and classroom climates.

Students currently feel disconnected from the adults in their buildings and feel that nothing will happen if they did report an incident or share a concern.

Students currently are concerned for their own safety at school.

Connectedness Strategy

Theresa Campbell says, “School staff are the best app!” She explains that the adults in the school building must be “aware enough to care”. These adults are already in the building with access to the students and they should be better utilized.

While Theresa recognizes that great work has been done creating policies such as “Safe, Caring and Orderly Schools — A Guide”, those policies need to turn into action.

While schools have Codes of Conduct, they need to be better implemented. We need to look at how we are educating kids about the codes.

“Diversity should define our schools, not divide them.”

Types of bullying

There are four types of bullying and one often leads to the next as bullying progresses in severity.

  1. Verbal
  2. Social, Emotional & Relational
  3. Physical
  4. Cyber

Bullying can often start with verbal taunts and progress to social and emotional abuse, then physical harm and be taken online with cyber-bullying that becomes so extreme it is essentially social assassination.

This progression can happen extremely quickly – even within an afternoon.

How To Intervene

We need to understand the motivation to intervene. The training provided in the ERASE Bullying program will help with assessments and interventions.

Role of the Bystander

World famous anti-bullying expert Barbara Coloroso delivered a passionate presentation packed full of the wisdom she’s gained over her many years in the field.

She is author of several books including “The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander: From Preschool to HighSchool–How Parents and Teachers Can Help Break the Cycle.”

Barbara explained we need to create helpful bystanders not hurtful ones.

There are many existing programs, campaigns and resources that we can utilize such as the “Take U out of bullying — be a helpful bystander, not a hurtful one.”

Famous quote: “There are no innocent bystanders.”

Barbara spoke FAST and I scrambled to write notes… I’ll share what I could capture, but please recognize there could be errors in these notes.

She spoke of the need for connectedness. We are interconnected, interrelated and interdependent.

“You don’t have to like everyone, but you must honour their humanity and treat them with respect and dignity.”

The genocide in Rwanda was a brutal example of the world standing by as disengaged onlookers. The killing in Rwanda is an example of what can happen when other people turned are into an “it”. Once someone is an “it”, you can do anything to them.

That dehumanizing and turning a person, or a group of people such as homosexuals, or a race, into an “IT”, is how bullying and eventually genocide occurs.

Learned Behaviour

Conflict is normal, necessary and natural. Bullying is a learned behaviour. You have to be carefully taught to hate.

We must ask ourselves, “How do you treat people and what are you showing your children?”

Hate crimes start as bullying. It doesn’t start with death camps, it starts with verbal bullying.

We must create a different climate where we teach children how to think and stand up for themselves and others… where they can act as “witness, resistor, defender”.

As parents we actually don’t want to aim to raise our children to have an unquestionable obedience to authority. We should strive to teach our children how to think and not have them raised on praise based behaviour.

While compliant children may be easier to raise when they are young, and they seek approval and try to please adults, they are less likely to be the ones to stand up as a “witness, resistor, defender.”

The strong willed kids may be tougher to parent, but they are more likely to stand up to a bully.

Dehumanization Must Stop

It begins with verbal bullying.

“Intolerance, bigotry and hatred cloaked in religion is still intolerance, bigotry and hatred.”

“Religion can be a vessel. We mustn’t be vessels for hatred.”

At the centre of the bullying circle is the Target. The problem is not with the target. Nothing justifies mean.

Many bullies have troubles of their own, but not all do. Some have a sense of entitlement. They thought they could get away with it because they always have.

The Bully Circle

The Bullying CircleBarbara explained the Bully Circle. At the top is the bully, who often is high status and has utter contempt for the target.

Often people will say about the bullies, “but these are nice kids, they come from nice homes.” Barbara says, “Nice kids can be real mean, we need kids that are kind.”

In the circle there are the “henchmen”. Kids that are praise dependent make wonderful henchmen.

Then there are passive supporters and active supporters.

At the bottom of circle are a deadly lot – the disengaged onlookers. On the upswing of the circle are the potential witnesses.

They are all are locked in a trap of comradeship. They will weaken the target, and they’ll try to fault the target.

To break the circle, we need a “witness, resister and defender”.

We Need To Care

The key is we need to care more deeply about one another.

Dr. Phil and Barbara had a disagreement. He said, “If only bullies knew the pain they caused.” She said, “No, if only they CARED they were causing the pain.”

There’s a difference between ignorance and apathy. The bullies often know, but they don’t care.

To break the cycle of bullying, we each must do 3 things:

  1. Pay attention
  2. Get involved
  3. Never look away

Barbara spoke quickly and with phenomenal passion… I could have listened to her for hours more… but her presentation had to end so that we could move on to the next item in the agenda – The Breakout Sessions.

Since I was desperate to hear more from Barbara, I chose to attend her breakout session. Again I scrambled to type up notes and I will share more of those notes with you in Part 2 of this series.

Part 2 – ERASE Bullying Summit – Lessons Learned

Part 3 Coming Soon… Don’t Miss It

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Written by Susan Carraretto, co-founder of 5 Minutes for Mom
Talk with me: @5minutesformom and
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