KILAUEA — Phyllis Kunimura and Marynel Valenzuela of Inkspot Printing dropped off materials for the six-step Resolution Empathy Process at the Kilauea Elementary School last week.
“October is National Anti Bullying Month,” Kunimura said. “This is a perfect opportunity to demonstrate the collaborative effort between different organizations to stem the bullying that is all around us — in our homes, schools, communities and in the media.”
Kilauea School has been implementing the process for the past three years with success.
“We do a School Quality Survey each year,” said Sherry Gonsalves, principal. “According to data from the survey that gauges student safety and well-being, more students feel safe from bullying at school now than three years ago. Additionally, students at school are resolving their own conflicts and developing habits and skills that will serve them well throughout their life.”
Gonsalves said the six-step program is an effective way to help students understand what happened leading up to the conflict, making right and wrong choices, and what they should do the next time.
Counselor Juday Leong is responsible for training and working with junior mediators as well as training new school employees.
“The program changes people’s ways,” Leong said. “It gives voice to, and empowers, the victim from the beginning. It sends a strong positive message to be respectful of each other.”
Previously, bullies were sent to the principal’s office for action, and victims were left alone. No more.
“This Resolution Empathy Process equips students with the tools they need to be problem solvers when conflicts arise,” Gonsalves said. “When they know how to navigate disagreement in a healthy way, the tension is reduced and their relationships are strengthened. The students can quickly address the issue and get back on track so they can focus on academics.”
Junior mediators are trained by Leong in the third grade. Once training is completed, the junior mediators are paired with someone they like and take to the playgrounds at recess to be available to other students who run into conflict situations. Their badge of office is a distinctive Junior Mediator identification, lanyard and a clipboard armed with the conflict-resolving process, including what questions to ask.
“We do have adult supervisors on the field during recess,” Leong said. “However, they get involved in resolving other issues, so having the extra eyes and ears of the junior mediators help them on the playground.”
Bohdi Moomaw is a sixth-grader who has been a junior mediator for three years.
“I like being a junior mediator because the other (younger) kids look up to you and think you’re smart because you resolved an issue peacefully,” Moomaw said.
Elias Shook, another sixth-grader, said sometimes the kids don’t listen.
“A lot of times, we resolve the conflict,” Shook said. “But there are other times when we see the kids doing the same thing that started the conflict.”
Kunimura, founder of the Kauai Independent Daycare Services, said by having adults and children consistently follow the six-step process, youth will be on the path for developing empathy and experiencing successful social and emotional relationships.
The first kind of bullying starts in the home when one child bullies, bosses, taunts, fights or intimidates another, or one parent bullies the other, she said.
“We should start early and teach an anti-bullying process from the bottom up, much like we teach reading readiness at an early age,” she said.
Valenzuela said she became involved because she could see the conflict situations taking place within her own family.
“I can relate to this,” she said. “I have people in my family that send out negative messages. It’s wonderful to train people to be positive and phrase things in a positive way.”