Prevent Bullying Through Be a Friend First

By Shannon Babe-Thomas, Membership Initiatives Manager, Girl Scouts Nation’s Capital

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Girls participating in BFF at Thomas Johnson Middle School

When girls are mean to one another, parents often may not see anything at all. But girls can feel it. The cliques. The eye-rolling. The taunting. The rumors. Making girls feel invisible…These are all forms of bullying.

Research from Girl Scouts shows 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. That’s where Girl Scouts comes in.

The Girl Scout Be a Friend First (BFF) program gives girls in grades 6 through 8 the tools to feel safe at school, online, and everywhere in between. BFF teaches girls to recognize bullying. To resolve conflicts. To be a better friend. And, to have better friends.

BFF is unique from most bullying-prevention programs because it lasts for eight weeks, giving girls time to build meaningful friendships and learn to take action against bullying in their communities. Through discussion starters, role playing, games, and quizzes, girls are given the time and a safe space to practice the words they can 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.

bff 2Thanks to a grant from the Community Foundation of Frederick, Girl Scouts Nation’s Capital last year launched the BFF program in Frederick County Public Schools through a partnership with Community Agency School Services. The program has already had a huge impact on girls in Frederick County, who said they grew as people and gained more friends. One eighth grader at Monocacy Middle School said, “I learned to expand my tolerance and to not let one thing get me down.”

This year, BFF has expanded to middle schools in Montgomery County, PrinceGeorge’s County, Fairfax County and Washington, DC. As the BFF program expands into more schools and community centers, Girl Scouts will continue to help girls find the right words to stop bullying—once and for all.

For more information on BFF and how to bring the program to your area, please contact Girl Scouts Nation’s Capital Membership Initiatives Manager, Shannon Babe-Thomas at sbabethomas@gscnc.org or 202-274-3318.