Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Standing Up for Others

At George Waters one of our three basic expectations is to 'Stand Up for Others'. This is the expectation for all grade 7s and everytime we talk to a grade 7 student we relate it back to this. At grade 6 we focus on 'Getting Involved' and at grade 8 we ask all students to 'Be a Philanthropist'.

One way to help students stand up for each other is by using a website called ''. 

Students can anonymously report mean-ness or acts of bullying in a safe manner. The reports come directly to me (Mr. Mead - principal) via a direct email. 

They look like this: 

Once I get a report I speak to the students identified and make a plan to help stop or change the behaviour. Often, students don't want a consequence when they submit a report. They just want whatever is happening to stop. 

Last night I received two reports about separate incidents. Although, I don't like getting these reports I would rather see them than not knowing bad things are happening to students at GW. These reports are a great way to send me information in a safe manner. 

Many of the incidents that are reported are not 'bullying' as it is defined. They are certainly mean and hurtful though. Both are deserving of some kind of response. I am hesitant to use the term 'bully' as it is used too much usually in the wrong way in my opinion. It has turned into a blanket term for everything bad that happens in a school. It makes it difficult to report and respond to real cases of bullying that may occur, which are few. Also, it can take away the 'victims' responsibility to respond to the situation and take control of how they are feeling. I find that as soon as we call something bullying it's about the action and less about the response. 

Saying that, 'mean-ness' happens way too often in many different forms. Watch the news. Mean-ness or bullying is not unique to schools. Mean-ness too, is deserving an appropriate reponse. 

Using 'Stopabully' allows students to start a conversation. It also allows the school to help students build resilience and how to positively respond to some one being mean to them. We try and help students learn ways to deal with negative comments in a way so it doesn't totally wreck their day. We tell students the only thing that they can really control is their response. They can't control other people's actions. People do mean things. 
How a student responds can control the outcome in most situations. 

Teaching kids to respond to the negative and to stand up for themselves and others is very important. They need to learn ways to do this to help and not make a situation worse. They can do this with an appropriate response. 

For more information about 'Stopabully' please visit 

George Waters, like every school, deals with situations where kids are mean to each other. We don't hide this fact. No school should. What we hope we have created is an atmosphere where kids feel they can ask for help and they get a response that they feel helps them. 

We try and focus on kindness as much as we can. We have way more kind things and positive things happening everyday than the negative. We try and respond to the negative in the best way we can while taking into consideration students needs. We try and treat everyone at GWMS fairly, not necessarily equally. 

We have great kids at GWMS and they do a great job Standing Up for each other to help keep our school safe so we can all learn and grow in a safe and happy school. 

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