Tuesday, April 5, 2016

‘Buddy Benches’ need student leadership

Buddy Benches” are sweeping my Facebook newsfeed, as various adults express interest in these benches where a child who can’t find anyone to play with, can go and sit to be joined by friends.

I share many of these adults’ sentiments about bringing these benches to their communities. It’s great for a child to have somewhere to go to help them to form connections.

Speaking as someone who was shunned by classmates at Calistoga Elementary School and Calistoga Junior/Senior High School in the Napa Valley, Calif., I believe that the most successful “Buddy Bench” programs provide an additional component, beyond simply installing a bench.

Schools need to identify and train compassionate student leaders who will watch over the bench and join a child there if every other child is waiting for “someone else” to befriend the unpopular student.

I appreciate the example set by fifth- and sixth-grade students at Ecole elementaire publique Heritage (as reported by BayToday.ca in Canada).

These student leaders made and painted benches to protest bullying and promote acceptance. These 20 students are also taking responsibility to ensure that lonely children will be joined at the benches.

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