To the editor:
I would like to take a moment to say thank you to Bob Brincefield and the Brownwood Bulletin for calling attention to a very real problem in today’s society and to a great program that focuses on a solution - Peter Yarrow’s non-profit organization, Operation Respect and the Don’t Laugh at Me program.
In the last three years, the Girl Scouts have sent a staff member into several school systems to present the Don’t Laugh at Me Program to students during the school day. In three years, we have served around 3,500 students (girls and boys) in grades 6, 7 and 8. We have been to Brownwood twice, to Albany, Santa Anna, Ranger, Eastland, Cross Plains, Ballinger, Coleman and Winters.
We have had great success, and evaluations from both students and teachers have indicated that some students have changed their attitude and behavior as a result of this very innovative program. Our council also has relational aggression program kits available for troop leaders to use with their girls.
Bullying is not only being addressed by Girl Scouts locally, but across the country. The Fall issue of Girl Scout Leader magazine has an article entitled “Tackle Bullying” about the various forms of bullying including manipulation, exclusion, snide commends, hurtful questions, gang intimidation, shunning, “dissing,” and online harassment. In central Florida, “Surviving Middle School” workshops are helping young girls prepare for tumultuous social pressures through a girl-to-girl mentoring program. The new Girl Scout Cadette leadership journey book aMAZE: The Twists and Turns of Getting Along has a section on bullying and what girls should do if they’re a victim, perpetrator, or witness to it and how to handle “cyber-slamming” — intimidating messages sent by other kids by phone or computer.
Girl Scouts is developing a holistic, online safety initiative with a top technology partner that aims to decrease the generational divide between parents and teens through branded tools, expert insights, and engaging content. To learn about this partnership visit www.girlscouts.org/onlinesafety. As part of the Safety Award for Girl Scout Juniors, girls are encouraged to read about bullying at www.kidshealth.org/kid/feeling/emotion/
Girl Scouts is taking bullying as a very serious topic with long-reaching effects, and so should every adult reading this today.
Jan A. Cate
Vice President of Community Partnerships
Girl Scouts of Central Texas, Brownwood