Clichéd posters and typical assemblies are not enough—this country needs a real solution to bullying that is student-driven and takes the issue on at its roots. That is the message of the Teaching Peace Initiative, a national nonprofit entirely run by students. The Initiative is focused on recruiting and training high school students to organize their peers and teach peacemaking curricula to children in their community.
“The solutions to bullying aren’t going to come from superintendents and politicians—it starts with us,” says Executive Director Fish Stark in a web video. (Available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1UcU0vAzu4o) “It starts with students who say it doesn’t have to be this way, who are willing to go community by community, school by school, classroom by classroom, and student by student, teaching kids to treat one another with love and respect. That’s how we’re going to make a real difference.”
Students have already responded to TPI’s call to action. As the organization begins its end-of-summer recruiting drive, dozens of high school students have already signed up to participate. The Initiative is already active in twenty-eight schools and thirteen states, with additional groups in France, China, and Canada. Student leaders, called Regional Executive Directors, recruit their peers, make connections with local elementary and middle schools, train their volunteers in TPI’s grant-winning peace curriculum, and teach the values of peace and tolerance to students in their communities. To sign up to be a Regional Executive Director, students fill out a form on TPI’s website, from which they are matched with an Organizer on the Initiative’s staff. The Organizer provides them with support and resources as they work to bring TPI to their school.
Organizing TPI’s efforts at the administrative level is a team of talented college students hailing from Yale, Columbia, American University, Johns Hopkins, Georgetown University, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, whose resumes include experience with nonprofits, advocacy groups, and members of Congress.
The Teaching Peace Initiative has received praise from Congressman Mike Honda (D-CA), Chair of the House Anti-Bullying Caucus, Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), renowned educational neurobiologist Dr. Sally Shaywitz, and professor and peace activist Colman McCarthy. “The students at the Teaching Peace Initiative know that teaching children tolerance and the values of good citizenship makes a real difference,” said Rep. Mike Honda, a national leader on bullying reform.
To learn more about the Initiative, visit teachingpeaceinitiative.com, “like” TPI’s Facebook page at facebook.com/TeachingPeaceInitiative, follow on twitter @TeachPeace2kids, and subscribe to the YouTube channel TPITeachingPeace.