By Savannah Kounelis
Take Ten is a program designed to promote non-violent means to solve conflicts, and in doing so, it hopefully ends issues such as bullying in schools around South Bend. Bullying is an obstacle that as a child and even now as an adult at Notre Dame, I see others and myself dealing with on a daily basis. I think that the key difference between the bullies one faces is youth and the bullies one faces as an adult is that bullies become harder to distinguish from peers as you grow up. Teaching 5th grade students, it is clear the bullies they deal with are direct, seeking outright conflict in the form of hateful words or even physical fights. As a college student, the bullies I face are much more subtle in their intents, hiding behind micro-aggressions and two-faced comments. In both cases a person’s dignity and happiness are being attacked, which is something that as a society we should not stand for. We see daily the impact that this can have on a person’s life: it can lead to dropping out of school, self harm, or even at the most extreme, to the taking of a life, either or someone else’s or one’s own.
This is one reason why I joined the Take Ten team as a Federal work-study intern. I believe that the skills the program teaches to end conflict with non-violent means of resolution are key to improving students’ quality of life and education in South Bend. I can see the changes that the program’s philosophy has made in students, such as helping students speak up for themselves more often or simply to help the kids remove themselves from harmful situations instead of choosing to fight. It seems to be making them happier and healthier students who can focus on schoolwork and making friends instead of the fear of being ostracized or hurt when they attend class. My experience with Take Ten this semester has been so great, and I feel like in teaching the “Talk it out, Walk it out, Wait it out!” ideology, I have benefited just as much as the students. It is my hope to keep working with the Take Ten program as it expands, and to see its impact reach more students in the South Bend next year to better prevent violence and bullying in the school system.