Therapy Dogs Help Children Overcome Bullying
Sadly, bullying in schools is more common than people would like it to be. It can truly affect a child's learning and their time at school. Luckily, someone is coming to the rescue. But it might not be the person you think. Therapy dogs are helping children overcome their bullying issues.
This is the case at one particular school in Topeka, Kansas. Last week, a group of dogs visited the Landon Middle School to help children work through their issues with bullying, social problems and stress. Some students also have worries about entering a new grade. Just take Grace Eno, a young girl about to enter sixth grade. She explained to news station WIBW.com that she is nervous about entering the sixth grade and is fearful that she might be bullied again. Well, the dogs helped alleviate that problem by calming young Eno down.
Eno noted that much of her bullying stems from her size.
"I get called a 'midget' because of my size. People will be like 'she's a midget' and when I was smaller I used to have a pixie cut, they said 'she's a boy, I don't know why she is pretending to be a girl,' because I had a boy haircut. I wanted my hair to grow back. I wished there was a hair fairy so they wouldn't call me a boy anymore," Eno said to the news source.
A glimmer of hope
The school psychologists are hopeful that having a presence of canines around the facility will keep students calmer and make them feel like they are supported and understood. Children who are bullied often feel like they cannot turn to anyone to discuss their issues and sadness, and they end up internalizing it instead. Keeping dogs as a regular presence around the school will help the psychologists get through to students and hopefully allow them to open up.
In general, therapy dogs are associated with alleviating several emotions, most notably stress. By simply petting a dog, people might feel better about a big test, the loss of a loved one or getting bullied next year. Therapy dogs can also sense when someone is in pain or worried about something.
School psychologist Stephanie Avila brought in her two therapy dogs, Broghan and Gracie, to the school to kick things off. She believes that while her dogs can sense stress, they also have a keen ability to detect anxiety and will immediately take action to try and calm a person down. She hopes they will have a positive effect on students in the school. Turns out, they already had an effect on Eno, who clearly felt comfortable around them.
"They are like little people who are fuzzy and adorable with big pointy ears and long wiggly tails," Eno noted, smiling and petting the dogs. Avila believes her dogs will make people feel more comfortable and willing to talk about their issues of any kind. Avila wants the dogs to help all students, those affected by bullying as well as those doing the bullying.
"The dogs help facilitate them talking about it. I think they feel calm and more self assured," Avila noted. "The kids that are the bullies have a lot of work to do because they have issues that are creating this and so the dogs help get to those issues and bring them to the surface and we can work to eliminate that.