As we begin the off-season work of looking at the totality of our Summer programs, it’s imperative to objectively critique our Behavior Management plans including Bullying Prevention and Awareness. If you are lucky enough to interact with other youth development professionals throughout the year at conferences or other meet-ups, you may have access to some resources focused on this topic. Many of us are not that lucky and depend on information we come across, our own experiences or a keen sense of confidence that we are handling these situations well. Regardless to your access to information/training, unfortunately, bullying has become a more complex issue that requires an increased sense of awareness and self-reflection to make sure you are truly prepared to handle these delicate and potentially dangerous situations. Below you will find 3 Best Practices in thinking about your Bullying Prevention and Awareness policies and procedures now:
FIND AN EXPERT
Here at Expert Online Training, we are lucky to have several faculty who work tirelessly on helping young people and their caretakers cope with Bullying issues, both preventative and corrective. While these are wonderful resources to use with your staff, it would also make sense to find an expert you trust to help you first understand this ever-changing issue and then begin to develop a plan for your specific organization. Engaging with someone who has dedicated their life’s work to mitigating the problems associated with Bullying will help eliminate misconceptions and possible omissions in your policy.
ENGAGE WITH YOUR COMMUNITY
There are two pieces to this best practice that work together to develop a sense of safety and care in your community. First, contact your local university or school district and ask if there is a professional who they use to speak to parents, teachers and students. I would even say you should ask to see this person live and determine if their message on Bullying matches with the type of culture you hope to create. Once you find someone who you feel comfortable bringing to your organization, engage with that person about the plausibility of coming speak to your families. The next piece is to invite your parents and campers to come to camp (or a central location) and hear from this professional who will tailor a message specific to your stakeholders. This will be an excellent learning opportunity for your community and deliver an important message about your intolerance for this type of behavior and it’s place as a priority for you.
OPEN THE LINES OF COMMUNICATION
Partnering with parents is one of the most important pieces of running a successful youth development program. Oftentimes, as professionals, under our breaths we wish parents weren’t “so involved” and would just let us do our jobs. I propose that when it comes to Bullying, we need to reverse course and open the lines of communication. Let parents know that this is an issue you are taking seriously by providing community learning opportunities like I described above or other resources that keep parents informed about the work you’re doing to keep their children safe. You should also ask parents to share with you any concerns they have throughout the year about any interactions between campers. By involving your most important ally, parents, you will begin an ongoing,productive conversation that will clarify your stance on Bullying Prevention and Tolerance.
The best practices mentioned above are just the start of developing a comprehensive plan to handle bullying in our organization. This work is important and takes the dedication to view it as a continuous work in progress. If you find the right resources and are open to learning from experts, parents and even campers, you will find success manifested by a welcoming, caring community.
Dave “Professor Dave” Malter is a long time camper who is now a grown-up camp enthusiast. He is an educator, consultant and trainer who works with camps on many issues pertinent to camp culture, staff development, leadership and safety.
To learn more about Professor Dave head to his website (www.professordave.camp) or send him an email @ firstname.lastname@example.org.