Combat Bullying with Kindness and Leadership
Author: Carissa Logan
June 8, 2015
After a middle-school student in Kentucky committed suicide, Green County Middle School (GCMS) started an anti-bullying campaign. The student and teacher Leader in Me Lighthouse Teams met and developed a plan in which they came up with the idea for a Random Acts of Kindness Week/21 Days of Random Acts of Kindness Challenge.
During this week, students were encouraged to dress up according to specific themes each day. Students created posters of encouragement that were posted around the school. The goal of the week was to help students see how choosing to be kind can help create a safer school environment with less bullying.
One special education student, Noah, took the initiative to submit a list of possible random acts of kindness and to write a speech and present it to the student body during a student-led assembly. He gave his speech with great confidence and had a great response from the students and faculty:
“Good morning, GCMS! I have been asked by the Student and Teacher Lighthouse Team to participate in a challenge. Why me, you might ask? Well, I am a student that is not always on my best behavior and want to prove to everyone that I can change. The challenge is 21 Days of Random Acts of Kindness. For example, give someone you don’t usually talk to a compliment, be respectful to your teachers and fellow students, or just give someone a hug. So, GCMS, I challenge you to do this challenge with me. Do you accept?”
The students and faculty of Green County Middle School accepted the challenge and saw a positive change in themselves and in the school environment, as evidenced by the following quotes from students and staff who participated:
“People’s viewpoints changed from being the bully to being protective of those that are bullied.” —Shylynn, eighth-grade student
“Random Acts of Kindness Week made our students want to get up and make a change; it excited them. It’s amazing how one thought can make a big change. People may think it’s impossible. That’s what I thought, but then all of a sudden my eyes were opened, and it changed our school in a way I would never have predicted.” —Josie, seventh-grade student, Student Lighthouse Team Member
“I saw that more people took responsibility for their actions and were nicer to each other.” —Casen, sixth-grade student
“I saw students take a stand for each other, voice their opinions, and I saw a more inclusive environment where everyone was valued.” —Chrissie Posey, Exceptional Child Educator, Teacher Lighthouse Team Member
“As a whole, students were more aware and thoughtful to each other and to staff.” —Anne Moore, Guidance Counselor
The Random Acts of Kindness Challenge gave students the opportunity to develop the important leadership quality of kindness. Seventh-grader Aubrey shared that “Kindness is in everyone no matter who you are.”
Principal Tim Deaton and the other members of the Green County Middle School community hope the impact of this week will help students continue to act in kindness throughout their lives.
“We are extremely proud that our students are beginning to realize the importance of kindness and service. Helping others usually costs nothing, but the return is priceless,” Deaton said. “We hope that our students will continue to look for ways to demonstrate their capacity as leaders through initiatives such as this.”