Standing up against bullying!

I remember being bullied. It was painful, embarrassing, even traumatic. Sometimes, it made me want to hide. It made me want to change who I was. At times, it led me to be mean back. I felt powerless.

We are powerless no more!

This term, all students in Grades 6, 7, and 8 at Prem Tinsulanonda International School in Chiang Mai have had a 3-day workshop intended to help identify bullying, recognize the harm it causes, and discuss strategies to stop bullying when it happens.

At the start of the workshop, students watched a powerful video. Grade 6 students watched a short student project about bullying to the soundtrack of Christina Aguilera’s “I am Beautiful”.  Grade 7 and 8 students watched the renowned “To This Day” graphic poem created by Shane Koyczan, who remembers having been bullied at school. He speaks out:

“I’m not the only kid who grew up this way. Surrounded by people who used to say that rhyme about sticks and stones. As if broken bones hurt more than the names we got called, and we got called them all. So we grew up believing no one would ever fall in love with us. That we’d be lonely forever. Don’t tell me that hurts less than a broken bone.”

All the students were asked to think about what they would say to bullies if they had no fear, and they wrote these in speech bubbles. These “words to the bully” have been displayed, along with other materials on bullying, over the last few weeks outside the library.

Lastly, Grade 7 and 8 students disclosed times when they have bullied someone and wrote a pledge letter as a promise to make key changes in how they respond to peers. All responses were sensitive and many were quite profound:

“I will never make someone feel sad or irrelevant.”
“I promise to use my words to cheer people up, not to make them feel bad.”
“I am not proud of my past words and actions and from today onwards, I will promise that my words will only be used for happiness and kindness.”
“I will be more responsible with the power of my words”.

We identified that bullying is not always saying mean words; it can be more subtle. It can involve excluding someone or spreading unkind rumors for example. Subtle bullying is just as damaging as outright bullying though.

So now the students are empowered! They know that bullying will not be tolerated in our community and that they can easily report it to me, their teacher, or the Grade Level Leader by sending an email or taking a screenshot of the interaction if it happens online. The students have had the opportunity to reflect on the power of their words and how important it is to use that power for kindness.

We are here to build others up and to stand up for one another. Always.

Amandine Lecesne, Whole School Counsellor
Prem Tinsulanonda International School, Chiang Mai, Thailand
A four programme IB World School

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