Ideas for ending bullying

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Ideas for ending bullying

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Well, the problem of bullying in schools across the country now is a pretty hot topic and there are all sorts of experts emerging who have their theories about how to prevent it from happening. The way we’ve prevented it from happening at several private schools that we have been involved in and several public schools as well is by having these weekly councils where kids can sit around and talk about their lives’ issues. When you sit in this circle with someone every week and you begin hearing what their issues are, you begin seeing that their and your issues are pretty similar. And you begin seeing that that person that you thought was a geek or a weirdo isn’t really, it just has the same kind of struggles in life that you do and so then being mean to that person is kind of out of the question. And then, if the school sets up a culture of trust, by, for example, having these councils at every grade level every week, then the bully starts looking like… then the other kids start looking at the bully and say, “What the hell are you doing? That makes no sense. Why are you being mean to that person? That’s not the way we behave around here.” And so you created a culture in which bullying becomes a sort of aberrational behavior and the students themselves will monitor it. I think at crossroads we had 2 fistfights in 20 years. And if you go to your typical inner city public school, they will have 2 or 3 every lunch, every recess. Yeah.

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Paul Cummins, PhD

Educator & Author

Dr. Paul Cummins, President and CEO of Coalition for Engaged Education (CEE), received his bachelor of arts from Stanford University, his MAT from Harvard, and his doctorate from the University of Southern California.  In 1971, he co-founded Crossroads School in Santa Monica and built it into one of Los Angeles’s most successful educational institutions and a national model for innovative, independent schools. 

In 1995, Cummins stepped down as Headmaster of Crossroads and formed New Visions Foundation (now Coalition for Engaged Education) to offer opportunities for Engaged Education to all youth. The first venture was New Roads School, a diverse, K-12 independent school in Santa Monica that has a deep commitment to social justice. New Roads devotes 40% of its tuition budget to need-based student financial aid, guaranteeing access to students from a wide socioeconomic array. Cummins has since implemented a number of innovative programs to help children at risk.

Cummins has published four books on education, including Proceed With Passion: Engaging Students in Meaningful Education (2004), and Two Americas, Two Educations: Funding Quality Schools for all Students (2007), both published by Red Hen Press. His most recent book of essays, Why Poetry? Reflections on Poetry, Writing and Culture, was published in 2009 by Xlibris, in addition to two volumes of his poetry and two children's books published in recent years. He is currently finishing Confessions of a Headmaster: My Pursuit of Joy and Justice in Education (forthcoming from Red Hen Press).

Cummins and his wife Mary Ann reside in Santa Monica. They have four daughters and five grandchildren.

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