Girl Scouts implement bully-prevention program in Orleans Parish schools _lowres

Photo provided by Girl Scouts Louisiana Eas—Sixth-graders at KIPP New Orleans Leadership Academy open a Be a Friend First session by remembering their first impressions of their best friends. The session was led by teacher Lily Clark.

Girl Scouts Louisiana East has launched BFF (Be a Friend First), a national bully-prevention program, in four Orleans Parish schools, thanks to a grant from the Wisner Foundation.

The program helps girls in grades six through eight develop healthy relationship skills, prevent bullying behavior, and become peacemakers in their schools and communities.

“Statistics show that when a girl is bullied, 85 percent of the time nobody steps in to help her. However, 57 percent of the time when peers intervene, the bullying stops within 10 seconds,” said Elsa Sackett, Girl Scouts program manager. “BFF is unique from most bullying-prevention programs because it lasts for several sessions, giving girls time to build meaningful friendships and learn to take action against bullying in their own communities.”

According to Sackett, the eight-session BFF program currently is being offered either after school or during the school day at KIPP New Orleans Leadership Academy, Samuel Green Charter School, Behrman Charter School and the Community Works AfterSchool Program at International School of Louisiana-Camp Street.

Activities include discussion starters, role playing, games and quizzes. Through BFF, girls are given the time and a safe space to practice the words they could use later if a bullying situation arises. Girls also identify the needs for bully prevention in their own community and develop projects to take action to address bullying in relevant and sustainable ways.

Girl Scouts Louisiana East hopes to expand its program into additional schools or community centers. For more information on BFF and how to get involved with the program, contact Sackett at (504) 908-3736.