Community Matters Blog

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

Giving Thanks
November 19 2013

Giving Thanks

I’m a person who really appreciates the Thanksgiving holiday. Not only for the turkey and fixings, but because my greater focus is on gratitude and taking time to reflect on all that I have to be grateful for. It’s easy to lose sight of gratitude in the fast paced, 24-hour news cycle we live with every day.  Click here to read the rest of the article...

The Cost of School Suspensions: It’s Higher Than You Think! - Part 1
November 8 2013

The Cost of School Suspensions: It’s Higher Than You Think! - Part 1

In the wake of the Columbine High School shootings in Colorado in 1999, the primary reaction by district officials was to beef up security, establish higher control procedures, institute “zero tolerance” policies and increase student suspensions.

Yet anyone who’s been following the research knows that these control-oriented school discipline policies have taken a high toll on student graduation rates and increased costs for schools across the nation. And the amount of those costs are even higher than previously considered. Click here to read the rest of the article...

Building a Safer, Thriving School through the Inside-Out Approach
October 24 2013

Building a Safer, Thriving School through the Inside-Out Approach

We all want schools to be safe and thriving places where students can excel, staff are inspired and parents are comforted in knowing that their children are in safe and nurturing environments. Unfortunately, as we hear on the news too often, many schools have become places where violence and mistreatment is the norm. School successes are secondary to school safety, teachers are suffering from burn out, parents are distrustful of schools, and students are subjected to the norm of “cruel is cool”.

So what can be done about this toxic school bullying virus? How do we protect our children, staff and communities from the violence and mistreatment? Click here to read the rest of the article...

From Bystander to Peacemaker - One Student’s Journey that Changed Their Life
October 22 2013

From Bystander to Peacemaker - One Student’s Journey that Changed Their Life

Students are confronted with bullying at every turn. Often they look to the popular 'leaders' in their group for cues as to whether to passively stand by or speak up to stop it.

Meet Donny Giovanni, one student who made a decision to learn valuable skills to stop bullying and how it changed his school and his life.

Donny's talk was taken from a presentation he gave in November 2012 on his experience as a Safe School Ambassador - the bystander education training program. Click here to read the rest of the article...

National Bullying Prevention Month - A Call to Action: 5 Things You Can Do to Improve School Climate
October 8 2013

National Bullying Prevention Month - A Call to Action: 5 Things You Can Do to Improve School Climate

Improving the school climate may seem like a daunting task, but the truth is each of us can and do impact climate, whether we intend to or not. We can all do that in a more intentional way by making a commitment to initiate positive interactions with each other. It is these small acts, when done consistently over time, and with a focus on relationships, that we begin the change process. Read the rest of this article...

Waking Up Courage in Students – It Works!
September 25 2013

Waking Up Courage in Students – It Works!

Adults make the rules, but the students set the norms on a school campus.  So how can we, as adults, empower students to positively impact the school climate?  For the past 12 years, Community Matters has begun this change process through our flagship program Safe School Ambassadors. Read the rest of this article...

School Climate: The Antidote To The Bullying Epidemic
September 17 2013

School Climate: The Antidote To The Bullying Epidemic

If what we want from our schools is to have them develop and “produce” students who are capable, connected and contributing citizens, then school climate must be the foundation from which we begin.

Improving school climate is all about putting people first and recognizing the power of relationships. When school climate is seen as valuable as academic performance, discipline issues decrease and test scores go up. Read the rest of this article...

School Safety: Why Focusing on Security is Not Enough
September 5 2013

School Safety: Why Focusing on Security is Not Enough

Metal detectors can’t keep out prejudice and zero tolerance policies don’t control student behavior when adults aren’t around. Check any news outlet on any given day, and you’ll see the proof that peer-to-peer mistreatment continues to permeate our schools, sometimes driving our children to unimaginable consequences. Read the rest of this article...

How to Create Positive School Climate Part 2; Creating ‘Safer Schools’ by Improving School Climate
September 3 2013

How to Create Positive School Climate Part 2; Creating ‘Safer Schools’ by Improving School Climate

Current Research and years of study have demonstrated the importance of a positive school climate as the foundational building block for achieving educational success - safe and high-performing schools. Yet today, few schools have a “comprehensive school climate improvement plan” designed to serve as the guiding document for strengthening the organizational culture and fulfilling their educational mandates.

There are four main components or “drivers” that are needed to achieve a positive school environment:

1)   The Will - leadership and courage
2)   The Framework – a comprehensive plan to improve the school climate
3)   The Resources – people, programs and funding
4)   The Support – the “buy-in” from all stakeholders

Click here to read the article.

How to Create Positive School Climate - Part 1
September 3 2013

How to Create Positive School Climate - Part 1

Since 1999, our nation’s schools have invested more than $10 billion in school safety measures. The goal of this vast expenditure was to improve school climate and thereby increase success for each school’s mandates - academic achievement, safer environments and strong attendance and graduation rates.

In spite of these vast efforts students in too many schools still experience unsafe environments and too high levels of bullying. Click here to read more.

National Bullying Prevention Month
October 18 2012

National Bullying Prevention Month

October is National Bullying Prevention Month, a time when we are reminded of the importance of preventing and stopping bullying from happening in our schools and communities.

Bus Monitor Bullied by Middle Schoolers: A Call to Action
June 29 2012

Bus Monitor Bullied by Middle Schoolers: A Call to Action

An elderly bus monitor recently made headlines when she was bullied by a group of middle school students. This incident dramatically illustrates the mutating nature and scope of the bullying virus. It’s getting younger, meaner, more electronic and more acceptable in youth culture.

The Epidemic of Silence: How We Can End It
May 21 2012

The Epidemic of Silence: How We Can End It

In more than 85% of bullying situations there are witnesses, and more often than not, these bystanders do not say or do anything. The effect of their silence is “deafening”, because silence is a form of consent. It emboldens the bully who perceives the silence of others as permission and tacit approval of their actions.

10 Ways You Can Help To Stop Bullying
April 20 2012

10 Ways You Can Help To Stop Bullying

We have a choice. We can be overwhelmed by the size and scope of the issue and do nothing, or we can wake up our courage and do something that contributes to making things better.

Bully movie opens Friday, March 30th - Waking Up Courage is the Solution to Stopping Bullying
March 27 2012

Bully movie opens Friday, March 30th - Waking Up Courage is the Solution to Stopping Bullying

The new movie “Bully” opens March 30th in major cities nationwide. The film documents bullying between real kids and outlines the extent of the bullying epidemic. But solutions do exist – in the form of programs like Safe School Ambassadors that awaken the courage of bystanders to speak up when they see bullying occur.

Rick Phillips Speaks On Bullying at the Clinton School of Public Service
August 26 2011

Rick Phillips Speaks On Bullying at the Clinton School of Public Service

In this video presentation, Rick Phillips, Executive Director of Community Matters, speaks about solutions to the bullying epidemic at The Clinton School of Public Service in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Safe School Ambassadors school nationally recognized for its tolerance efforts
May 31 2011

Safe School Ambassadors school nationally recognized for its tolerance efforts

Mesa Linda Middle School in Victorville, CA was recognized as a “Mix It Up” Model School by the Teaching Tolerance Project.

Rick Phillips - Keynote Speaker at the National School Board Association Conference
April 11 2011

Rick Phillips - Keynote Speaker at the National School Board Association Conference

Rick Phillips presented a two-hour keynote at the National School Board Association’s 71st Annual Conference on Saturday, April 8, held at the San Francisco Moscone Convention Center.

SSA program Evaluation Report shows positive results
April 7 2011

SSA program Evaluation Report shows positive results

A multi-year evaluation of the Safe School Ambassadors (SSA) program has been completed, with some very exciting and gratifying results.

We Can Do Something About Bullying!
March 11 2011

We Can Do Something About Bullying!

On Thursday, March 10, President Barack Obama and Mrs. Obama hosted in the White House East Room, a first-ever White House Summit on Bullying.

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