A friendship bench at school: what is it?

Marie Lanen

Head of parenting section (baby, pregnancy, family)

Published on
Updated

in collaboration with

Sabrina Philippe (Psychologist)

They flourish in many playgrounds, the benches of friendship are intended to avoid the isolation of some students. How does it work? What do you think of this initiative? The answers with Sabrina Philippe, psychologist.

The concept of the friendship bench comes from the United States. At the initiative of this friendship bench, a young girl, Acacia Woodley, who has just arrived in a school following a move. The little girl is then the victim of teasing and she had a hard time making new friends. She then decides to create a friendship bench by decorating a bench in the playground. The idea is tosend a message to other students to indicate that you feel lonely and/or sad. Since the concept to cross the Atlantic and some schools propose to create a friendship bench in the playground.

Friendship bench at school: a good initiative

According to psychologist Sabrina Philippe “this is an excellent initiative! Indeed, it is not uncommon for children do not dare to say that they feel alone or that they are isolated. Moreover, in consultation I never ask if the child has friends but rather what he does in recess. If the child responds that he stays with his teacher or that he reads, this indicates isolation. Recreation is a key moment, especially in isolation and exclusion” she recalls.

Bench of friendship: a project that must be supported by the educational team

If the initiative to create a friendship bench within the school is a good initiative: “this project should not be seen as a good action without additional actions being implemented by the teachers and especially the director of the establishment who has an important role to play in the educational project that results from this initiative“says the psychologist. “Likewise, this bench must be properly used to avoid the opposite effect of its vocation, and that the children who sit on it cannot be the target of further teasing and stigmatization..”

The benches of friendship to evoke school bullying

The creation of a friendship bench should be an opportunity for the teaching staff to discuss school harassment, benevolence, isolation and exclusion. Particularly delicate themes to exhibit at certain ages especially from the age of 10 when young people can be very cruel to each other. “We must stop believing that isolation is a question of people, it is not only that, it is also a question of time. It can happen to anyone and young people need to be aware of this” insists the psychologist Sabrina Philippe.

As a reminder, according to the latest figures from the Ministry of National Education, in college, 5.6% of students are victims of school bullying. According to a second figure quoted by the Senate, 6% of students could be victims. “Among the little ones, this remains quite rare but from the CM2 class, the problem of belonging to a group becomes essential in the eyes of young people and bullying can begin” says the psychologist. It is therefore to be hoped that the benches of friendship and the evocation of school bullying within elementary schools can prevent pupils from suffering from restraints and other mockery in the future.

A friendship bench at school: what is it?