Community Matters Blog
Read our blog posts below by Rick Phillips, Executive Director and other staff members, along with other content related to the issues of bullying, cyberbullying and school climate.
Based on California Healthy Kids Survey data, Sonoma County youth continue to report alcohol use rates, binge drinking and marijuana use that ranks in the highest 10% in our state. For educators, one of the most alarming and significant consequences of this behavior is the impact of substance and alcohol use on the developing adolescent brain, as well as the increased risk of addiction.
Over the last decade a variety of factors have coalesced and contributed to significant changes in how schools address discipline issues. As a result of pressure from the government, coupled with a recognition that suspensions are often meted out disproportionately and often don’t result in improved behavior, schools are moving away from “zero-tolerance” policies and toward alternative approaches that are more effective.
As a Programs & Services Coordinator at Community Matters, I have the unique opportunity of working with hundreds of schools across the country to help them launch Safe School Ambassadors® (SSA)- our flagship bystander education and youth empowerment program. One of the best parts of my job is hearing student feedback on the two-day training.
I know I wasn't the worst, but I sure didn't help. When I was in high school and all of my friends were picking on C.L., I joined in without a thought.
Increasing student voice and utilizing a peer-to-peer role-modeling approach is the quickest, most cost efficient and effective way to change the social norms on campus and reduce bullying, cyber-bullying and harassment.
The good news is that within the new Local Control Funding Formula requirements, school climate is one of eight areas of primary focus for improvement, signaling an increased recognition of the value, benefits and effectiveness of improving school climate for better academic and social outcomes.
Young people often don’t possess the discernment needed to make good decisions about what they should and shouldn’t post on social media. Here are six ways we can support students in being "cyber-safe".
Back-to-school is obviously an exciting time, yet for many children, starting the new year can seem like a minefield filled with risk, vulnerability and concern for their safety. Here are some concrete and effective actions you can take to help your students start the school year with the best chance for success:
As parents, we often struggle balancing our children’s need for privacy while striving to keep them safe. This dilemma often leads parents to question if or when it is alright to invade a teen’s privacy.
So what is a parent supposed to do: safety or privacy first?
Twitter and Community Matters are teaming together via a combination of shared resources to help reduce cyberbullying, by both identifying and preventing online abuse.
Although we can never be sure exactly where it starts, the culture of sports hazing has been around a long time. One way to describe this phenomena is that it’s behavior modelled by others in a superior positon which I adopt as my own once I have been elevated to that place of superiority or power.
It’s likely that at some point in your life, either you or someone close to you has been subjected to the effects of cyberbullying, bullying, hazing or harassment. But nothing hits home more than when it happens to someone you care about.
The evidence-based Safe School Ambassadors Program (SSA) empowers elementary, middle and high school students to recognize mistreatment when it’s happening, to have the courage and skills to intervene, and to transform it into self-awareness, kindness and compassion.
As bullying, cyberbullying and intolerance affect more and more children, it’s increasingly crucial that adults, both parents and teachers, increase their awareness and understanding of how their children interact with each other, both in person and online. Here are some practical steps you can take to better protect the young people in your care.
In Part 2 of this series, in which we are outlining 5 key strategies for successful implementation of Restorative Practices (RP), we will cover:
- Staff Engagement / Overcoming Resistance
- Using Systems Thinking
- Strategic, Incremental Implementation
In this 2-part series we outline 5 key strategies for successful implementation of restorative practices (RP). In this first part we will address the first two:
- Strong Leadership / Leading Restoratively
- Creating a Learning Organization
There’s no way around it… whether you’re conversant and comfortable with the “ins and outs” of data collection and measurement - or not - at the end of the day, data drives decisions. That’s why it’s important to understand what the data is illustrating about climate and then to select measures that are easy to collect and simple to explain.
One thing for sure is that there is no shortage of plans, lists of to do’s or action steps to be taken when it comes to improving our schools. However, too often those plans don’t ever reach their intended or desired end results. Somewhere between the plan and execution, things break down.
Why? In the 15 plus years we have been assisting schools in school safety and school climate change, we’ve identified some critical missteps...
Like most changes in life, even policy changes that have the potential to positively affect school climate will likely be met with at least some level of resistance. It just seems to be human nature to fear and resist change, so effective leaders need to learn to work with the resistance.