BFF: Be a Friend First (Bullying-Prevention Initiative)
Incidents of bullying have reached almost epidemic proportions and, in some cases, have ended in tragedy.
Nationally, one-third of girls ages 12–18 say that they have been bullied at school. And, according to the National Education Association, more than 160,000 students miss school each day because they are fearful of being targeted by bullies.
Middle school is a crucial time of transition and adjustment and is also when bullying behavior tends to peak, making these years the most important time to promote core values and develop critical social and leadership skills.
This is why we are launching an innovative national bullying-prevention initiative for middle school–aged girls. BFF (Be a Friend First) is based on the Girl Scouts of the USA’s national leadership curriculum and is designed to help girls develop healthy relationship skills, understand relational aggression, and learn about conflict resolution and bully prevention.
We know that girls' bullying looks different than boys’: It often involves teasing, exclusion, and cruel behavior in social media forums, all of which are harder for adults to notice. But the consequences are just as devastating: Girls who are targeted have higher rates of depression, eating disorders, alcohol and drug abuse, and suicide.
Rather than addressing or punishing bullying behavior after it happens, BFF (Be a Friend First) gives girls the social and leadership skills necessary to prevent it in the first place.
BFF (Be a Friend First) will help girls:
- Build self-confidence.
- Identify and avoid bullying and exclusive behaviors.
- Resolve conflicts peacefully and constructively.
- Build trusting relationships with classmates and nonrelated adults.
- Feel empowered to create a culture of peace.
With our extensive expertise on girls’ leadership and relationships, Girl Scouts is uniquely positioned and qualified to offer such a turnkey solution.
BFF is designed to work with the aMAZE! Journey, Girl Scouts' highly acclaimed leadership program.
- The aMAZE! Journey gives middle school girls valuable skills to develop healthy relationships, prevent bully behavior, and become peacemakers in their schools and communities.
- In BFF, girls get to explore thorny issues like peer pressure, stereotyping, gossip, and cliques through engaging role-plays, creative writing, games, and discussion exercises. They can also create and lead projects in their schools and communities to tackle bullying issues on their terms and turf!
- BFF easily integrates into existing health or character education classes, or can even serve as an after-school program in the community.
- Healthy relationships are the solution to bully prevention. BFF inspires girls to lead one another—with friendship!
The Girl Scout Research Institute has explored a broad range of topics important to girls’ development. The theme that emerges again and again, regardless of subject matter, is the importance of relationships in the lives of girls today. We know this – let’s do something about it.
If you are passionate about girls’ development and concerned about the impact of bullying on it, volunteer to participate in this effort as a program facilitator. If you are a parent who is concerned about this issue, advocate to have this program initiated in your daughter’s school, or volunteer to facilitate the program. If you are a school principal worried about the effects of bullying on your students' academic and personal lives, contact us to bring this innovative program to your school.
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