Paws Against Bullying takes hold at Bell's Hill

Paws Against Bullying takes hold at Bell's Hill
Posted on 11/20/2012

Program uses pets to combat bullying

Third-grade students at Bell’s Hill Elementary learned a special lesson about bullying from Angel Paws and some four-legged furry friends who recently visited the school. Angel Paws, Inc. has introduced a new interactive curriculum for third-grade students called “Paws Against Bullying,” that teaches students how to identify bullying in case they or others experience it. From the Angel Paws volunteers and their canine counterparts, the students learn the meaning of empathy and how to act responsibly.

“We teach about giving care to others and to our pets,” said Jean Ann Jones, Angel Paws Secretary. “We are implementing a bullying program this year with third-graders. It teaches kids how to be a friend, to report, to lend a hand,” Jones said.

Using big dogs alongside the very small dogs, the Angel Paws volunteers demonstrate how bullies can come in all shapes and sizes.

“We ask them questions on what bullying looks like and allow them to respond, so it makes them think,” Jones said.

At Bell’s Hill Elementary, the students were engaged and responded with thoughtful responses to questions like, “What does a bully look like?” or “How do you bully?” or “Who has been bullied?” and “Who has been a bully?”

The students were given a piece of paper, undamaged and unwrinkled. They were asked to wad it up, stomp on it and then try to straighten the paper, which they could not. Once they realized the paper would never look like it was before, the intended message was received.

“Once you damage a person by bullying them, there is a piece of that person that cannot be made he same as before,” Jones explained.

The Angel Paws handlers and their pet partners have been working with students for over three years, teaching them to understand animal cruelty and neglect and how to properly care for a pet, among other subjects. Using pet partners to expand on that curriculum has been an effective way to show the students the need to value one another and their companion animals, said Jones.

At the end of the Paws Against Bullying presentation program, the students learn an important slogan: “Be a Buddy, Not a Bully,” followed by “Woof! Woof! Woof!”

“They love it and they remember it,” Jones explained.

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