October 31st, 2014
by H. Ketcham, M. Hamilton & R. Ferdinand
Dennis the Menace may be known as a troublemaker, but he has never crossed the line into bullying. In October, school administrators and teachers at Miller Elementary School in Canton, Michigan invited David Crumm, editor of ReadTheSpirit magazine, to brainstorm ideas for engaging young students to recognize and stand up against bullying.
Mr. Crumm shared a copy of the book, Bullying Is No Laughing Matter, with school officials who especially liked the “Fence of Friends” activity guide based on a “Dennis the Menace” strip.
Cartoonist Ron Ferdinand drew the “Dennis the Menace” comic which states, “The best defense against bullying is a Fence of Friends.” This thought inspired the faculty at Miller Elementary School to demonstrate how the “Fence of Friends” concept works. Students at an assembly were given an 8×11 sheet of paper with an outline of a fence on it. Over the next few weeks, they will be asked to draw their own Fence of Friends on that sheet of paper.
Teachers understand that some students will immediately fill their fences with sketches of friends, while other children will sit quietly with a near empty fence. That’s when teachers will encourage students to look at the drawings that will be posted around the classroom in the coming weeks. Then, students will be invited to “draw themselves in” to those fences that are near empty. By doing so, children will thereby make the commitment to be good friends to others throughout the school year.
It’s truly an honor that Dennis is included in a book as important as Bullying Is No Laughing Matter, one that is positively impacting children in one school to stand together by building their own “fence of friends.”
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