Shelley Moore’s What’s the Story? video does a great job of conveying the idea that bullies can be victims of bullying too. For a long time, Shelley was trapped in the drama triangle. What I mean is that she dealt with conflict by casting those involved in one of three roles: victim, rescuer, or villain. She claimed the victim role in her story of how her former friend called her names, she deemed the former friend a bully (villain), and she cast her special teachers and even her older self (when she became a teacher advocate of anti-bullying) as the hero. Shelley’s transformational moment occurred when she realized that her bully was also a victim. Getting out of the drama triangle is transformational because it allows us to see that negative behaviours are just expressions of need. So how do we give students social-emotional tools right from the start of their school experience so that we can create people who can deal with conflict and other stressors effectively?
I am a big fan of using proven programs. Starting in 2004, the FRIENDs program was the program that BC government promoted and made available to schools. A few years ago, the BC government decided to promote another program, called Ease. This is a crossover moment because some schools still use Friends while others are using the Ease program. They are both based on cognitive behaviour therapy, and both are proven to work. This means that you will get good results with either program. If your school does not have a program in place, then I would recommend Ease since it is the one that is currently being promoted by the government so it will be easy for you to get access to materials and training. Here is a brief run-down on FRIENDS and Ease.
FRIENDS is a preventative program that is designed to give students skills in the areas of emotional awareness, relaxation, problem solving, self-management, goal setting. There are three different sections of the Friends program. When you implement all three sections, FRIENDS can help students all though elementary school. They 3 sections are as follows:
Fun FRIENDS – K-1
FRIENDS for Life – 4-5
My FRIENDS – 6-7
The FRIENDS program takes about 10-12 weeks to complete. The lessons are hands-on and align with the core competencies. FRIENDS workshops for parents are also available.
In 2019, the Ease program replaced FRIENDS as the B.C. government’s program of choice. Ease was created through a collaboration of B.C. teachers, individuals from the Ministry of Children and Family Development, and many experts from other BC organizations. Like Friends, Ease is an early intervention program that is designed to give students effective strategies to deal with anxiety. Ease training is all online and anyone with a BC school district email can access it. Ease is much better than FRIENDS in one key area: Ease goes up to Grade 12 whereas FRIENDS only goes up to grade 7.
To Sum-up, FRIENDS and Ease are two terrific programs that provide students with effective strategies to deal with anxiety. Putting a proven program in place at your school is essential if you want to erase bullying. If Shelley Moore and her former “bully” had been given effective anxiety tools, then Shelly could have been saved from a traumatic experience or at least had the resilience to bounce back from the experience. Without these tools, she was struck in the destructive drama triangle and the traumatic experience left a long-lasting mark. If kids reach into their mental wellness toolboxes and all that they find is a hammer, then we can’t be surprised when they start swinging. Let’s fill their toolboxes with effective tools by giving them access to proven anxiety programs like FRIENDS or Ease.
BC Ministry of Children and Family Development. (2015). BC FRIENDS at School. Victoria.
Government of BC. (2022). Ease. Healthy Minds BC. Retrieved May 12, 2022, from https://healthymindsbc.gov.bc.ca/ease/
Ministry of Child and Family Development. (2022, May 9). Everyday Anxiety Strategies for educators (EASE). Province of British Columbia. Retrieved May 12, 2022, from https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/health/managing-your-health/mental-health-substance-use/child-teen-mental-health/ease
Moore, S. (2016). What's the story? - Shelley Moore - YouTube. Youtube. Retrieved May 12, 2022, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YLBYLGWBhf8