Schools Try Turning Social Media Into No-Bullying Zone

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Social media changed society and continues to mold it, often in negative ways. Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, and other sites can be platforms for hate and cyberbullying.

So what if kids could only use social media for positive interactions? That’s what a new anti-bullying program called Bridg-it is trying to create. It’s an interactive, app-based system that encourages kids to support one another by sending what they call “shoutouts” which can be seen on monitors around any given school. 

“They’re
talking about it all the time, they send them to me, I send them back, so it’s
really promoted this whole culture of kindness within the school and among the
student body,” said Stephanie Saban, principal of Coral Cove Elementary School
in Miramar. 

It’s
one of a handful of schools in South Florida using the program. 

On
this day, a delegation from the Miami Heat organization came to the school to
reward the kids for using Bridg-it extensively, creating the climate of
kindness the system is designed to foster. 

Former all-star Heat player Glen Rice and former assistant coach and broadcaster Tony Fiorentino spoke to a class of fourth-graders about the evils of bullying and ways every student can prevent it from happening. 

“You
see someone sitting alone, go up and approach ‘em, don’t be afraid to try and
get to know ‘em,” Rice said, citing one example of how students can show
compassion to their peers. 

So positivity is the message being promoted by the Heat and by the creator of Bridg-it, Jeff Ervine.

“We’re
attacking bullying from a lens of positivity, by giving affirmations and
recognizing each other, we find out where we’re alike, and as we find out where
we’re alike, there’s less conflict, there’s less bullying,” Ervine said. 

The
goal is to prevent bullying incidents rather than just punish the perpetrators
after they happen. 

“Default
to kindness, teach positive digital communication so it becomes a habit,”
Ervine explained. 

“When
Glen and I come here and get out the message about being kind and doing kind
deeds, we also want them to give us shoutouts, there’s followups to it so
there’s all kinds of advantages with the Bridgit program,” Fiorentino said. 

Any effort to prevent the pervasive, destructive problem of bullying is worth a shot, whether it’s from the three-point line or from the computer screens of fourth-graders.  


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