The Bridge of Don-based founder of a unique programme to provide children with strategies to cope with bullying has urged teachers to get his system into their curriculum ready for the end of lockdown.
Mike Healy, creator of Face Off, says the impact of the pandemic in terms of bullying with so many children on-line for long periods may never be known, but teachers need to act in readiness.
Mr Healy’s Face Off programme is unique- possibly globally- in that it uses his knowledge of neuroscience, learning and development and philosophy to create experiences for children and young people, through which they learn to deal with bullying.
The experiences involve children being together physically, and can’t be replicated in lockdown although Mr Healy has created some small guides for immediate download.
Words of advice, policies and procedures can’t replace physical experiences, says Mr Healy.
“The difference is the child being immersed in learning experiences with peers to help them to cope with real life situations.
“We try to capture the idea that we take personal responsibility for our relationships rather than solely rely on authority figures, including parents and teachers. to sort things out for us.”
Mr Healy, a human resources professional, started Face Off with a six week pilot class in Danestone community centre in July 2018.
“Because I thought it was needed,” he said. “The media reports were showing concern about young people being bullied or harassed or isolated by others, resulting in self harm and suicide.
“At the first session five kids showed up.
“As word went out the numbers grew to 10 kids towards the end of the pilot.
“Other six week pilots were set up simultaneously in Ellon Academy and Portlethen Academy.
“By the time all pilots were completed 45 kids had been through.”
The classes grew until the start of lockdown and Mr Healy developed the programme into different grades for the children to work through.
When the pandemic brought it to a standstill, he was able to use the time to get Face Off adopted into the curriculum for excellence so that all teachers can use it.
He hopes Face Off will be widely taken up across the UK and potentially abroad.
He said: “We are striving for every young person to be coached in how to limit the personal impact of negative attitudes, bullying and verbal abuse; be coached in how to respond positively to negative attitudes, bullying and verbal abuse; be cool and courageous in all interactions with others and stand up for those who are victims of negative attitudes, bullying and verbal abuse.”