You can find a bully anywhere. It’s hard to stop them. It’s even harder to change a school’s culture. But students and staff members at Minnehaha Elementary School are working to do both.
Helping set the example is a group of fourth- and fifth-graders called the Stand Up Club. Created by students, the club works to diminish bullying and advocate for treating others with dignity. A critical part of their strategy is empowering bystanders to act when a power imbalance may lead to disrespect.
Not everyone feels comfortable speaking up in confrontational situations, but being a bystander can have consequences for both victim and observer, says a club member. “You’re letting them get hurt; you’re not helping them. You might feel bad, and then other people might get bullied,” she says.
Minnehaha students learn how to employ a tool for intervention: a swift, chopping hand motion delivered with an emphatic request to stop the negative behavior. If the gesture doesn’t have the intended effect, students are taught to walk away and talk to an adult.