By Aaron Griffith, AmeriCorps Member, Serving at McDonough Elementary School

Here at City Year, we work to create a strong school culture built around concepts like academic dedication, love of learning, and inclusivity of all. It is through these areas that we are able to build the relationships City Year New Hampshire has with our schools and the relationships corps members have with individual students. This then can inspire the creation of strong relationships amongst all members of the school community and reduce the presence of bullying.

October is known across the United States as National Bullying Prevention Month. In recent years, the term “bullying” seems to have grown more and more as a buzzword in schools as stories of dangerous bullying accounts have risen to the public’s attention. However, even though I’ve only been at my school for about two months, I can already see how anti-bullying discussions and initiatives have influenced a stronger community amongst the students. Reflecting back on how some students were when I was in elementary school, I have been so pleasantly surprised to see the many inclusive acts and the friendships formed between students I would never had previously expected. Of course, it isn’t all perfect, but overall, bullying seems to be much less of an issue than I had planned.

Why is this happening? Why do I see less bullying than I expected? Well, I think teachers play a major role. Engaging students in thoughtful discussions about diversity, gender stereotypes and sexism teaches them that it’s better to be a good person to everyone. Creating an open dialogue influences students to be kind and inclusive, rather than pointing out what is different about another person. This, in turn, affects the entire school community.

Building on top of this established system, City Year’s 50 Acts of Greatness also addresses the issue of bullying. It allows groups of students to focus even more on how their personal actions can create a positive environment for others. Although we’ve just started with our Behavior List students, I think we’re off to a good start to work towards the end of bullying. 

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