By Megan McCarter
Fifth grader Malcolm Lyon is especially tall and well spoken for his age. When asked what he loved most about his school, Malcolm answered simply, “No bullying.” This might be surprising given the struggle with bullying that schools face nationwide. This August, Malcolm started his eighth year at Odyssey Community School, a small private school in Asheville, North Carolina, where the subject of bullying is addressed with four guiding fundamentals.
1. Recognize that bullying and conflict are not the same thing.
The community Malcolm is describing is not a place without conflict. Disagreements happen, feelings are still hurt, words are still powerful, and kids are still learning how to navigate the complex world of friendships. Odyssey is not a paradise in which human nature is checked at the door. Conflict is a natural part of our human story, and conflict resolution is a skill that children and adults alike need practice navigating with grace.