According to Patty O’Grady, PhD, an expert in neuroscience, emotional learning, and positive psychology, specializes in education, “Kindness changes the brain by the experience of kindness. Children and adolescents do not learn kindness by only thinking about it and talking about it. Kindness is best learned by feeling it so that they can reproduce it.” A number of benefits have been reported to support teaching kindness in schools, if not for bullying prevention, for the other positive social and academic outcomes.
The good feelings associated with giving and receiving kind acts are produced by endorphins, which activate areas of the brain that are associated with pleasure, social connection, and trust. These feelings are proven to be contagious and encourage more kind behavior by the giver and recipient.
Lisa Currie wrote for Edutopia that, “teaching kindness in schools is essential to reduce bullying.” She highlights addition research which attributes a school environment that promotes and teaches kindness to multiple positive outcomes, including less bullying:
- Increased peer acceptance
- Greater sense of belonging and improved self-esteem
- Improved health and less stress
- Increased feelings of gratitude
- Better concentration and improved results
- Reduced depression
Continuing its commitment to preventing and reducing bullying in our nations’ schools, NEA offers a number of resources for educators to promote awareness of bullying behaviors among students and prevent bullying behavior. NEA’s GPS Network includes a Student Bullying group that offers a forum for educators to express concerns and share resources and best practices; they also provide two webinars.
School-wide programs that address both the causes and the effect of bullying can have a tremendous effect. Much of this can be achieved simply by teaching students compassion, empathy, and the value of kindness.
As schools across the country grapple with the issue of bullying, NEA Healthy Futures encourages school leaders to consider a proactive approach to bullying prevention that fosters active, positive behaviors in an inclusive, charitable environment. This will help achieve a safe and supportive school environment and cultivate a climate of civility in which everyone feels they are not only accepted, but can contribute.
See additional resources from NEA and get the facts on bullying.
Encourage your students and colleagues to “Take the Pledge and Stand Up For Bullied Students!”