Girl Scouts of the USA Launches Be a Friend First (BFF) Bully-Prevention Program for Middle School Girls

NEW YORK, May 15, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) has launched BFF (Be a Friend First), a national bully-prevention initiative for middle school girls. Based on GSUSA's popular aMAZE! leadership curriculum, the program helps girls to recognize and intervene in bullying situations and lead positive change in their schools and communities. Sadly, statistics show that when a girl is bullied, 85 percent of the time nobody steps in to help her.

Additional research shows girls are more likely to bully others subtly, through relational aggression—manipulating their relationships with other girls online and off—as opposed to using physical aggression. The same studies also show that bullying behavior peaks in middle school, when the need for social acceptance is high, making this a crucial time to help girls learn to prevent bullying.

"Girl Scouts is about growing girls into leaders, which includes teaching girls to recognize when something is inhibiting their development, such as relational bullying," said Anna Maria Chavez, Chief Executive Officer of Girl Scouts of the USA.  "Giving girls the skills, support, and tools they need to stand up for themselves and others is a key component of leadership. We are creating a program that, with the guidance of adults, can help girls to make their world a better place on an issue that is important to them."

BFF is unique because:

  • It helps prevent bullying behavior before it happens.
  • It is girl-focused.
  • It helps girls "lead with friendship."
  • It was shaped and named by girls.
  • It enables girls to become peacemakers and to bring about change.

BFF can be offered in schools or community centers and includes eight sample sessions that can be customized to meet a group's needs. Each engaging session includes an opening ceremony, skill-building activities for bullying prevention and healthy relationship development, and the development of an action plan. Sessions are led by trained adult volunteers. Local Girl Scout councils will work with the schools or community centers to recruit and train volunteers based on the group's needs.

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. The components of these eight sessions can be modified into more or fewer sessions, depending on the timing and needs of each group. 

The need to prevent bullying is more important than ever because such behavior can affect a girl throughout her life. Bullying statistics show that:

  • Almost 1/3 of all students ages 12−18 report that they have been bullied at school.
  • 160,000 children miss school each day out of fear of being bullied.

For more information on BFF and how you can get involved or bring the program to your area, visit http://www.girlscouts.org/program/journeys/bff/ or http://forgirls.girlscouts.org/bff/.

About Girl Scouts of the USA
Founded in 1912, Girl Scouts of the USA is the preeminent leadership development organization for girls, with 3.2 million girl and adult members worldwide. Girl Scouts is the leading authority on girls' healthy development, and builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place. The organization serves girls from every corner of the United States and its territories. Girl Scouts of the USA also serves American girls and their classmates attending American or international schools overseas in 90 countries. For more information on how to join, volunteer or reconnect with, or donate to Girl Scouts, call 800-GSUSA-4-U or visit www.girlscouts.org.

SOURCE Girl Scouts of the USA



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