25 Apr ‘Together Against Bullying’ Day 1
As we stepped into St. Monica’s school for our anti-bullying pilot training, our ears were filled with the jumble of chatter, children’s laughter and parents’ goodbyes, muffled only by the ring of the school bell signalling the start of the school day.
Assembly presentations for primary and secondary school students are a crucial element of the ‘Together against Bullying’ project, as they represent an excellent opportunity to meet the children, acquaint them with the programme, get them thinking about bullying; what it means; what its effects are; and what can possibly be done to stop it. We were excited and curious to see how primary school students would react to the training materials and the extent to which they would engage and interact with us.
A few minutes into the presentation, our expectations had largely been exceeded. The children were eager to participate in the discussion – they listened attentively, nodded their heads in agreement and answered our questions avidly. We asked them to tell us how someone who is being bullied feels. Some said depressed, left out, alone; others said sad; a little girl in the back raised her hand and announced : ‘broken-hearted’.
We encouraged them to consider various case studies and reflect on whether bullying had taken place or not. In response to each question we received an enthusiastic chorus of ‘yesssss’ ’s and ‘noooo’ ’s. The children also became familiarized with some facts about bullying in Maltese schools, and with the psychosocial strategy we developed, called SWAP ( Say Stop, Walk away, ask an Adult for help, and seek Peer support).
It is a well known fact that kids are like sponges and learn fast. However, it seems like our presentation didn’t only provide for a learning experience, but also a cathartic one. In the course of assembly some children courageously spoke up and started relaying their personal experiences with bullying. As we were also informed later on in the day during the Teachers’ training, many of them approached the Assistant Head straight after assembly with questions. They wanted to know whether they were being bullied and had failed to realize iy, and if what had happened to them that very morning, or what they’d done to their friends the day before, accounted for bullying.
We left St. Monica School at 5 p.m., thinking that Day 1 of ‘Together against Bullying’ had been full, intense, but also very satisfying. We cannot wait for our upcoming classroom and parent trainings!
#LetsTalk #ItsNoSecret #TogetherAgainstBullying
Isotta, Project Support Officer