Walk the Talk – a closer look at bullying prevention
Walk the Talk, Prepare’s anti-bias, anti-bullying program, was created in 2006 by Prepare in collaboration with Randy Clancy. The goal of the program is to uncover a source of bullying (the roots of violence) and the important role of allies in ending hurtful words and mean behavior in communities. It builds on the Prepare middle school curriculum skills for self-advocacy: once you know how to stand up for yourself, you are better equipped to stand up for others.
Quotes from students from De Vargas Middle School; Santa Fe, NM:
“A lot of my life I have been judged and bullied . . . I don’t speak up for myself. So now it changes – today I speak up for myself. “
“I have learned how to stand up for myself without making an argument, and also how to stand up for others. I learned to be the difference in the world.”
Eight years later, Walk the Talk has reached hundreds of students and educators – helping them change the conversation when incidents do happen and reducing the frequency and severity of bullying.
“I feel like the workshop that we did in the past few weeks was really cool. Now I know how to stop or handle a situation. I’ve actually used some of the skills to help stop some of my friends from being bullied . . . In the future when a problem comes up I will know what to do.”
“I learned that you could make someone feel bad even if you’re not trying to… I really think this lesson changed my behavior.“
The topics covered also serve to enrich curriculum in other academic subjects such as history and current events, for example: the Civil War, the expansion of voting rights in the U.S., and the movement for marriage equality. By examining racism, sexism, classism, lookism, abelism, heteronormativity, and other “isms”, students in Walk the Talk learn how bias(es) and stereotypes lead to discrimination in the present.
“Before I learned all this I would never pay attention to the world, TV, or people. But now I actually do.”
They can expand that understanding to events of the past in history class. Through experiencing the power of allies in bullying situations at schools, they can identify how significant the roles of allies were in historical events. The can more easily imagine themselves as allies and rehearse allied behavior during the program.
“I learned how to bring people into a group if they are being left out. I learned how to be an ally and to tell who my allies are.“
“People of all cultures, races, and religions need to be defended and respected. Standing up is hard and tough but we all can do it. The skills that were taught to us are going to help us change the world. “
Walk the Talk goes west!
In 2013, IMPACT Personal Safety of New Mexico trained with Prepare to teach Walk the Talk and have implementing the program this academic year at De Vargas Middle School. The curriculum fit well with other seminars already being offered by the chapter, such as The Roots of Violence.
The impact has been tremendous. Students and educators alike have high praise for the program and it is clear the lessons resonated deeply and truly empowered the community.
“IMPACT has helped me realize that I need to be nice to others because everyone is fighting their own battle that I know nothing about. I also know that when I think that I am joking I could really be offending others.”
“I am sometimes mean to my friends. I call them mean names and they call me mean names. I am going to stop calling names and I am going to start being nicer to them. Hopefully they will stop calling me names too.”
Alena Schaim, Executive Director and Instructor for the De Vargas Middle School program says, “Walk the Talk excites me because it goes beyond ‘Bullying is wrong.’ messaging. Students already know that bullying is hurtful and are affected by it. Walk the Talk gives them the empathy to identify with what others experience and concrete tools to help.”
Walk the Talk replaces simplistic models of bullying – “she is just saying that because she is jealous” or “he must have low self esteem” with a nuanced understanding of bias and stereotypes and how they play out at the lunch table – we help young people address bullying at its source.
Please join us each week and invite others to do so as well.