Students in Geneva, Ohio schools are showing off their commitment to kindness for all to see.

Middle and high schools recently pledged to treat everyone with kindness during an event to kickoff a month of kindness awareness programs. The effort, designed by Geneva Parents for School Safety, coincides with National Bullying Prevention Month in October, the Star Beacon reports.

“Kindness is the key to overcoming bullying,” Geneva Parents for School Safety co-director and counselor Marti Milliken Dixon said. “Young people who are kind to each other have far fewer instances of bullying behavior. Teaching a young person kindness is an effective way to improve our society both locally and globally.”

About 100 students tied red and white ribbons on a fence outside of school to show their commitment to treating others with respect and intervening in bullying situations – a display that will greet visitors throughout the month.

“The ribbons blowing in the breeze will be a month-long reminder of their pledge,” Dixon said. “When we empower young people to stand up to the bullies and use positive peer pressure to curb these behaviors, the benefits are palpable. This activity also provides young people with a tangible representation of their good work.”

The kindness pledge event - along with rock painting at elementary schools, compliments day at the middle school, and the creation of a kindness garden at the community library – also serve as fundraisers for Geneva Parents for School Safety to purchase 251 emergency lockdown barriers for every classroom in Geneva Area City Schools, the Star Beacon reports.

“We’re currently at 30 percent of our fundraising goal,” Geneva Parents co-director Margie Netzel said. “Our sponsors have shown they understand the need for safety in our schools and are helping to make it happen.”

Administrators throughout the district spoke up in support of the program, and applauded the focus on rallying the community together around kindness.

“Anything we can do to help kids be sensitive to others and kinder is a positive thing,” Geneva High School Principal Douglas Wetherholt said. “The anti-bullying message is important to us.”

“We want to involve the entire community in this effort,” middle school principal Alex Anderson added.

James Davison Hunter, founder of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, pointed to the importance of school practices and connections to the community in “The Content of Their Character,” an analysis of character education in a variety of different U.S. schools.

“How a school is organized, the course structure and classroom practices, the relationship between school and outside civic institutions – all these matter in the moral and civic formation of the child,” Hunter wrote.

Parents and educators looking for tips to combat bullying can find a variety of resources from Champions Against Bullying. The group’s “No-Nonsense Guide To Kids’ Bullying Solutions,” for example, teaches students “prevention and intervention strategies, immediate practical solutions and safe and effective ways to help a friend who is being targeted by bullies,” among other topics.

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