Over the past decade, there has been a huge anti-bullying movement in the United States. For many years, The Crime Victims Center of Chester County (CVC) provided traditional bullying prevention trainings for elementary students – but they wanted to find a way to address the root causes of violence. To do so, they broadened the focus of their programs to provide an introduction to oppression.
“We all have a stake in reducing violence in the world, and we have to understand where the roots of violence land in our society,” said Joe Myers, the Community Outreach Supervisor at CVC. “We started naming discrimination in our bullying programs specifically so that kids could have that word as they move forward talking about bullying,”
CVC is able to see students one to three times a year from kindergarten through fifth grade. In their programs with 5th graders, they help students address and recognize stereotypes. Using role play scenarios, students engage in bystander intervention around these stereotypes. By practicing skills, the hope is students will be able to use what they’ve learned in their daily lives if they see discrimination or bullying taking place.
“By working with students as young as kindergarten, we can begin addressing the unhealthy behaviors while planting the seeds of healthier behaviors,” said Joe. “If our ultimate goal is to reduce the amount of sexual and gender based violence in this world, then we have to make sure everything we do in elementary school is connecting to that goal… teaching kids how to be to be good friends is hopefully teaching them how not to sexually assault or how to be better allies in the struggle against sexual violence.”
CVC’s framework for their programs comes from two specific sources: The essay, Oppression, by Marilyn Frye, and the article, Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics by Kimberle Crenshaw.
“We are learning as much from the students are we are hoping to teach them,” Joe said.
For more information about available prevention programs available through The Crime Victims’ Center of Chester County visit https://www.cvcofcc.org/prevent.