Community Matters Blog

Read our blog posts below by Rick Phillips, Executive Director, staff members and guest bloggers, as they discuss the issues of bullying, cyberbullying and school climate.

Bullying on the School Bus and What We Can Do About It
November 9 2016

Bullying on the School Bus and What We Can Do About It

Far too often, students who begin or end their day with what should be a peaceful and fun time, instead find themselves the targets of teasing, taunting or isolation on their school bus. Here's what we can do about it.

Restorative Practices: Building Accountability, Repairing Relationships and Creating Safer Schools
October 24 2016

Restorative Practices: Building Accountability, Repairing Relationships and Creating Safer Schools

Restorative Practices teach social-emotional skills and help build a strong caring community that experiences fewer harmful acts of mistreatment. Restorative Justice moves schools away from punishing students for their harmful acts towards helping them correct their behavior, thus restoring a sense of community and well-being for all those who have been impacted, as well as for the school at large.

The Most Effective Way to Change School Climate: Student Engagement
October 11 2016

The Most Effective Way to Change School Climate: Student Engagement

When school norms change from meanness and indifference to kindness and compassion, that’s when disciplinary incidents and suspensions begin to decrease and students can get back to focusing on learning.

Advice for Keeping Your Kids Safe Online
September 26 2016

Advice for Keeping Your Kids Safe Online

Just like in the real world, it’s important to recognize that as wonderful as the internet can be when it comes to sharing information, learning, and even connecting with the people we care about - it also has a darker side. Unfortunately, it’s all too easy for children to stray into the seedier parts of the online world without even realizing what they’re doing.

Successful School Climate Improvement: 5 Action Steps for Starting the Year Off Right
September 12 2016

Successful School Climate Improvement: 5 Action Steps for Starting the Year Off Right

It’s déjà vu all over again, as another start to the school year is upon us. This is a time to reconnect to our reasons for caring about students and doing all we can to ensure that they attend schools where they feel welcome, safe and connected to caring adults.

LGBTQ Students Need Support: How Safe School Ambassadors Can Help
May 25 2016

LGBTQ Students Need Support: How Safe School Ambassadors Can Help

When we take a sober look at harassment and bullying in school communities, we know that anti-gay bullying is rampant and often unchecked. As students realize their sexual identity and gender orientation younger, it is essential that this school community’s population have the emotional support to ensure their mental and physical health and well-being.

Whole School Climate: Changing the Narrative and Getting the Results We Want
May 9 2016

Whole School Climate: Changing the Narrative and Getting the Results We Want

There is increased recognition of the value, benefits and effectiveness of implementing school climate improvement reform. To address both the opportunities and the challenges, a clear and compelling climate roadmap for schools is needed...

Helping Students Be Responsible Digital Citizens
April 25 2016

Helping Students Be Responsible Digital Citizens

In a remarkably short time, social media has become the leading method by which teens connect, communicate, and share interests. It is crucially important for families and educators to develop and maintain an awareness of social media channels and apps.

Bullying in Japan: Expanding the Upstander Revolution
April 12 2016

Bullying in Japan: Expanding the Upstander Revolution

In 2014 at an International Bullying Conference, I was introduced to a Japanese organization called Learning Disabilities of Kanagawa (LDAK). LDAK was intrigued by Community Matters’ Whole School Climate approach. They had reviewed our Safe School Ambassadors® (SSA) program and wondered whether the embedded principles of bystander education -- waking up the courage of kids to say and do the right thing -- would transfer to their culture, and to their schools.

Alcohol and Drugs with Teens Today – Beyond “Just Say No”
March 28 2016

Alcohol and Drugs with Teens Today – Beyond “Just Say No”

Community Matters' Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs (ATOD) Peer to Peer Prevention training was introduced after school district officials in San Jose, California approached Community Matters to see if the same strategies used in the evidence-based Safe School Ambassadors® (SSA) training could be applied to decisions young people make surrounding substance abuse. 

Using Restorative Practices to Reduce the Need for Discipline
March 14 2016

Using Restorative Practices to Reduce the Need for Discipline

Many people come to Restorative Practices believing that it is a discipline program. However, it is more effective to view Restorative Practices as a way of thinking and a set of proactive strategies and processes that reduce misbehavior, thereby reducing the need for discipline.

Youth Empowerment: An Essential Driver for Reducing Discipline and Creating Safer Schools
March 1 2016

Youth Empowerment: An Essential Driver for Reducing Discipline and Creating Safer Schools

As educators and caring adults, we’re always looking for ways to reduce students’ risky behavior, increase their attendance and improve their achievement. What we have often failed to recognize is that student empowerment is the most effective strategy for reaching these desired outcomes. Empowering youth requires seeing students through a strength-based lens, not a deficit-based one; viewing young people as assets and not problems.

Making Schools Safer – A Student’s Perspective
February 16 2016

Making Schools Safer – A Student’s Perspective

Administrators and teachers say that they keep bullying, violence and drug use out of their schools. But school staff can't see everything and they can't be everywhere for everyone. That's why it's so important to teach us students how to recognize situations that could easily escalate, and how and when to act. 

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Inspired Us to be Courageous Upstanders
February 1 2016

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Inspired Us to be Courageous Upstanders

Dr. King said that “we must build dikes of courage to hold back the flood of fear.” Although he spoke those words a long time ago, the need for courage in the face of fear is no less prophetic today than it was in the midst of the American civil rights movement of the 60’s.

What is my child doing with that app?
January 19 2016

What is my child doing with that app?

The trend for downloading apps isn’t new, but our parental awareness is evolving to include these new threats. Two-thirds of all parents are expressing worries about potential negative effects of the programs our children are downloading.

The Growing Problem of Hazing and What Schools Can Do About It
December 14 2015

The Growing Problem of Hazing and What Schools Can Do About It

Hazing is a serious problem among today’s young athletes - especially among kids who believe it’s the only way they’ll get to fit in.

School-Based Approaches to Decreasing Student Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Use (ATOD)
November 24 2015

School-Based Approaches to Decreasing Student Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Use (ATOD)

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.

How School Punishment is Being Replaced by Restorative Approaches
November 9 2015

How School Punishment is Being Replaced by Restorative Approaches

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.

Youth Voices - Empowering Students As Peacemakers
October 27 2015

Youth Voices - Empowering Students As Peacemakers

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.

A Former Bully Gives 5 Tips for Proactively Addressing Bullies
October 12 2015

A Former Bully Gives 5 Tips for Proactively Addressing Bullies

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. 

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