Bullying among children has reached such critical levels that parents, educators, state legislatures, health professionals and many others, including the president of the United States have sounded the alarm that enough is enough.
“Bullying is a common experience for many children and adolescents,” the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) reported in March. “Surveys indicate that as many as half of all children are bullied at some time during their school years, and at least 10% are bullied on a regular basis.”
The White House estimated earlier this year that a third of the nation’s schoolchildren, about 13 million, have been subjected to bullying.
The website, www.bullyingstatistics.org, defines child bullying as “a form of intimidation or domination toward someone who is perceived as being weaker. It is a way of getting what one wants through some sort of coercion or force. It is also a way for someone to establish some sort of perceived superiority over another person.”
Besides the common physical form of bullying, the website explains, there also is verbal and emotional bullying. “And, with the rise of the Internet, there are now instances of children being bullied online through email, chat rooms and on Facebook,” according to the site.
Schools around the country have become acutely sensitive to bullies on their campuses in recent years and are implementing stricter bullying rules. Parent groups and numerous organizations offering information and solutions have sprung up in response to the rise in bullying. Even the president of the United States weighed in on the issue, not only because of the growing concern, but because of his own experience with bullying.
“With big ears and the name that I have, I wasn’t immune,” President Barack Obama said when he and First Lady Michelle Obama convened the White House Conference on Bullying Prevention in March. “I didn’t emerge unscathed. As adults, we can lose sight of how hard it can be sometimes to be a kid. It’s easy for us to forget what it’s like to be teased or bullied, but it’s also easy to forget the natural compassion and the sense of decency that our children display each and every day when they’re given a chance.”
HeartMath Focuses on Emotional Balance
HMI Education Specialist Jeff Goelitz said, “HeartMath emphasizes teaching children to recognize, understand and self-regulate emotions such as anger, anxiety and fear. Otherwise, these emotions can lead to a negative behavior such as bullying.”
“Then redirect their energy towards other positive, engaging outlets with adequate administrative and family support and enforcement to make an impact,” Goelitz said.
“To help address school bullying,” he said, “schools have to focus on both the overall culture and individual student behavior. An indifferent school environment leaves plenty of holes for student aggression to slip through unnoticed, but even with a schoolwide policy of zero tolerance, if individual students don’t know how to recognize and redirect these impulses, it will be hard to reduce incidents of bullying.
Goelitz likes what Nicholas Carlisle, Director of No Bully, is doing to help change school cultures. Nicholas has a program where schools get educated in anti-bullying strategies. One of his best creations is Solution Teams. Under a Solution Team, an adult team leader brings together a team of students to stop the bullying of one of their peers. The leader describes how it feels to be in the target’s shoes and asks the team to solve this situation. The team includes the bully, the bully-followers and some positive leaders from the same peer group. The rewards that schools typically experience from this kind of social and emotional learning are significant reductions in student bullying, increased student inclusiveness and respect.
“At the individual student level, students being taught HeartMath are learning to recognize the circumstances that trigger bullying and how to first see the clues that are happening inside their bodies and the emotions that lead to aggression. Then with HeartMath tools, students learn how to manage these impulses and focus on more constructive outlets for their energy.
HeartMath Programs and Technology
HeartMath has developed a range of special techniques and learning programs to teach students from kindergarten through high school and beyond how to manage emotions such as anger, frustration, anxiety and fear and to develop respect for themselves for others.
Early HeartSmarts® for Ages 3-6, for example, establishes a foundation for future learning and healthy and constructive behavior and interaction with others by teaching children how to work, solve problems and play together and accept each other. Children are introduced to the important role the heart plays in how they think, feel and act. Among the tools Early HeartSmarts teaches young children is the Shift and Shine™ Technique, which instructs them that “the heart is where you feel love, appreciation and care” – what HeartMath calls qualities of the heart.
Early HeartSmarts, HeartSmarts for Grades 3-5 and the TestEdge® Interactive Learning Programs, for students from kindergarten through high school and college, are programs designed to empower students with a strong self-image. They are helping children in countries around the world become more self-confident and build meaningful and lasting relationships with their peers, teachers and families. The skills they learn can last for a lifetime.
Scientific studies of HeartMath’s emWave® technology have shown it to be highly effective in teaching students skills for achieving coherence, an optimal state in which the heart, mind and emotions are in-sync and balanced. Emotional balance is critical in managing stress levels, maintaining self-control and overcoming anger, fear and a lack of self-respect, all of which can lead to negative behaviors.
Regular practice with the emWave® Pro (Desktop for Mac and PC) helps students create and maintain coherence as they practice with easy-to-learn tools, exercises and game play. A pulse sensor that plugs into a computer displays the user’s heart rhythm patterns in real time. As the user becomes more coherent, his or her heart rhythm patterns become smoother, signifying that the body’s mental, physical and emotional systems are more in sync.
Scientists constructed the emWave®2, a handheld personal stress relief device, specifically to fit in a shirt pocket or purse so the user could take it anywhere and practice coherence and resilience-building techniques at a moment’s notice.
The key new feature of this second generation of the emWave PSR is its capability of storing the user’s sessions and being plugged into any computer. Users now can view their stored sessions, or start new ones, and monitor their progress at building their coherence levels.
Students appreciate the advanced technology that goes into both the computer-based emWave and the portable emWave, and the knowledge that they can set their own regimens and monitor their progress in real time.
Counselors, psychologists, educational therapists, social workers and other health-care professionals can benefit from the HeartMath® Interventions Certification Program, which licenses them to utilize HeartMath tools and technologies in their therapeutic work with youth and adults. The program’s self-regulation techniques, protocols and technologies will help them establish a new physiological baseline that results in sustainable perceptual, attitudinal and behavioral changes.
Based on 10 years of best practices and results seen by practitioners who have used HeartMath technologies with thousands of clients and patients, including students of all ages, the program helps practitioners achieve desired results more quickly. The program includes home study, interactive webinars and ongoing technical and clinical support.