Bullying in schools is as much a problem today as it has ever been. Perhaps even moreso than it used to be. But how do Catholic schools handle the problem? How do you teach and reprimand in the Catholic way? In the last few years, there has been an increase in a technique called Virtue-Based Restorative Discipline. “This faith-filled approach to addressing bullying and other disruptive behaviors stands as an exemplary model for our parishes, homes and schools.” says Reverend Robert J. Carlson, Archbishop of St. Louis
Designed to minimize the anti-social behaviors that can so often cause problems in schools, while simultaneously increase faith practices. Developed in the Archdiocese of St. Louis, it focuses on the root cause of bullying and other harmful behaviors, rather than punitive repercussions after the fact. It focuses on inspiring children to perform acts of kindness, lay a foundation of spirituality in children and parents alike, helping teachers to recognize and understand warning signs, and create accountability and responsibility for preventing and solving conflicts with the children themselves.
And rather than just focusing on addressing the issues of bullying, it focuses instead on leading a life in the way of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, a better, kinder way of living. By asking children “How do you see the God in others?” you take them out of their own mindset and immediate circumstances and lead them towards a more forgiving and generous way of thinking.
The Catholic Education Office offers training in this program now, and over 200 educators from the Archdiocese of St. Louis and seven other surrounding states can attend comprehensive training in VBRD, School teams will be trained to prevent and reduce antisocial behaviors through virtue education and restorative practices, resulting in a consistent message that upholds the dignity of the human person. “This is our fourth year for this unique training,” said Lynne Lang, director of School Climate at the Catholic Education Office. “Our returning schools are a testimony to the success of this work and reflective of the archdiocesan beONE initiative goals.”
For a full list of resources on this program, visit VirtueBase.org for books and press that can help you bring this into your own classrooms and schools. You can also look there for information on keynote presentations for diocesan retreats, workshops, training services, or presentations for faculty, parents, or students at that same website.