Bullying’s Antidote

By CONNIE NOLEN / Community Columnist

Attending Shelby County Schools’ Psychologist Dr. Ameet Bosmia’s bullying presentation was invigorating. Going beyond bullying stats and laws, Bosmia shared vital social and emotional learning resources.

Teaching literary magazine for the past 14 years, I’ve marveled at the social and emotional growth of my students. Students learn that to produce the best magazine, they must work together. My staff classes thrive with Teamwork Tuesdays—and suffer without them. As a social and emotional learning teacher, I am a work-in-progress. After all, if I expect kindness toward others, is it enough for me to model that behavior—or must I teach those skills? And what’s the lesson if I fail at modeling kindness? More importantly, what’s the lesson if those who are bullies triumph over kindness?

Dr. Ameet Bosmia offered resources to end bullying behaviors. (Contributed)

Public apologies are my practice. If I am discourteous in front of a class, I apologize in front of a class. Students learn that their teacher is imperfect. I hope they also learn that apologizing is important—and that they note that I usually self-manage to avoid hurt feelings. One of Bosmia’s resources, the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (https://casel.org/) has an insightful video revealing that 93 percent of teachers want social and emotional learning taught in the classroom.

Bosmia shared STAR expectations: show respect, take responsibility, aim higher and ready to learn.  Bosmia reported that initiating a simple social emotional learning premise diminished discipline referrals by 30 percent. Revealing that only 33 percent of bullied students report—and that 25 percent of teachers have reported being bullied by administrators sent me to another of his resources.

Looking up HealthyWorkPlaceBill.org revealed a sad truth—Alabama has yet to introduce the bill. Alabama’s northern neighbor, Tennessee, was the first state to pass a law requiring healthy workplace behaviors.

Adopting healthy workplace legislation is the ultimate across-the-board adult confession that bullying behaviors disrupt mental health—and mental health matters enough to make the commitment to kindness official. Alabama’s Healthy Workplace Bill would model our adult commitment to choosing kindness for our children. I’m in. Will you join me? Visit heathyworkplacebill.org to commit.