October is National Bullying Prevention Month, when organizations and people around the country work to help raise awareness of bullying prevention through events, activities, outreach, and education. Bullying is a problem that plagues many of our youth across all different communities, and can manifest in the form of mental and emotional abuse as well as physical violence.
To combat bullying amongst children, adults need to help kids understand the basic values of respecting their peers and appreciating peoples' differences. This needs to include proper guidance from parents and teachers, who are helping to build these young minds on a daily basis. However, one area that is often overlooked in the fight against bullying is coaching and youth sports.
A recent survey by Playworks, a national nonprofit that improves children's learning and physical health by facilitating safe, active, inclusive play in low-income schools, demonstrates the impact good coaching can have on reducing the prevalence of bullying in schools. The study found that staff in schools with Playworks recess programs reported an 82 percent reduction in bullying incidents, as well as an 87 percent decrease in disruptive events taking place in the classroom.
Those are both pretty amazing statistics to me for a couple reasons. First, those findings tell me that Playworks' intervention is yielding tangible results in reducing bullying in the schoolyard and making children more comfortable at school.
Second, it proves that techniques used on the playground can translate into the classroom. By translating behavior at recess to the classroom, Playworks' model of organized "play" is doing more than just temporarily alleviating the problem. It is instead teaching children real values, which leads them toward becoming better citizens in school.
One of the core beliefs of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation USA is that sports and positive coaching can benefit kids beyond the playing field, setting them on a path for success in life. That's why the great work that we're seeing with organizations like Playworks, as well as with programs like Up2Us's Coach Across America program that trains quality coaches and places them in sport for development programs around the country, is so important. The statistics don't lie -- proper coaching and mentorship reduce bullying! Programs like those described above impact thousands of kids in the US, but with 6.5 million volunteer coaches across the country, we should be trying to train all coaches on how to successfully reduce bullying amongst their students. With the support of parents, teachers, coaches and schools we can together reduce the incidents of bullying taking place on the playground, in the classroom, and on sports fields because kids will embrace the value of inclusiveness.
So as National Bullying Prevention Month nears its close, we want this to just be the beginning of coordinated efforts and driving more awareness around this serious problem. Parents and teachers can't do it alone, and where better to continue mentoring and teaching kids the value of inclusiveness then while they're playing the games they love.