Making youth bully-proof

Asheville City Schools participated in “National No-Name-Calling Week” in January, and a Norwegian-born initiative called the “Olweus Bullying Prevention Program” is being gradually implemented at all grade levels.

But administrative efforts can be slow going. And thanks to the catalyst of social media, (Facebook has made headlines for being a major contributor), bullying is more pervasive than ever. So how to deflect? Cultivating a strong sense of identity through writing, acting, musical performance, Eastern-style martial combat and other self-confidence-building disciplines. Local experts and instructors offered Xpress examples of teens transformed by the expressive arts.

Even at summer camp, bullying prevention is a hot topic. Teens at Eliada Summer Camp in West Asheville will be required to research the subject this year, creating flyers and posters that reflect their findings, as well as mentoring younger campers. At the Brevard residential camp Green River Preserve, an atmosphere of “physical and psychological safety” is paramount, says executive director Sandy Schenck.

“We ask children to make a respect pledge: ‘Respect yourself, respect each other, and respect all living things,’” says Schenck.

Melanie McGee Bianchi, Section Editor

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