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.

Bystander to Upstander

Endings and New Beginnings
May 17 2017

Endings and New Beginnings

Serving as the Founder and Executive Director of Community Matters has been one of the greatest gifts in my life. Working on behalf of all children and youth has grown me as a person, helped me address and heal my own childhood history of bullying and trauma and strengthened my skills and expertise as a thought leader in our areas of service.

From Safe School Ambassador to Middle School Teacher and SSA Program Leader
May 2 2017

From Safe School Ambassador to Middle School Teacher and SSA Program Leader

Back when I was in high school in Red Bluff, California, I was a Safe School Ambassador. Recently I was reflecting on how this program had made a difference in my life, because in fact, if it hadn’t been for the SSA program, I would never have become a teacher, and I never would have met Nate.

Youth Empowerment: An Essential Driver for Creating Safer Schools
April 18 2017

Youth Empowerment: An Essential Driver for Creating Safer Schools

As educators and caring adults, we’re always looking for ways to reduce student’s risky behavior, increase their attendance and improve their achievement. What we have often failed to recognize, is that having students serve as the “change agents and peace makers” on school campuses goes a long way to optimizing the conditions for learning and positive behavior to occur.

An Intrapersonal Narrative of LGBTQ+
March 21 2017

An Intrapersonal Narrative of LGBTQ+

The truth is that LGBTQ+ folks still suffer a myriad of struggles on a daily basis. If we cannot change the world around us to be more accepting overnight, then how do we cope and/or strengthen our internal selves to take on the day-to-day struggles?

What to Do About Hate Crimes in Our Schools
February 8 2017

What to Do About Hate Crimes in Our Schools

It’s clear that our children have not gone unscathed in the current political climate. Bullying and cyber-bullying, already a major problem in America’s schools, have now been exacerbated by an elevated awareness in student’s minds of homophobia, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, racism, misogyny and xenophobia. Just like the rest of us, young people are trying to make sense of what they’ve heard and seen in the “adult world”, and they’re acting out from a place of confusion, frustration, fear and heightened stress.

The High Value of Student Engagement in Creating Safer Schools: A Risk Management Perspective
January 23 2017

The High Value of Student Engagement in Creating Safer Schools: A Risk Management Perspective

One of our forward thinking principals had already brought the Safe School Ambassadors Program (SSA) to our district, having learned of it from a friend in another district. As our JPA promoted SSA to more schools, we determined that beside the social and cultural benefits of reducing acts of bullying, it was also likely to reduce the number of insurance claims.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Make Your LCAP Successful and Sustainable by Focusing on School Climate
September 15 2015

Make Your LCAP Successful and Sustainable by Focusing on School Climate

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.

5 Ways to Create a Positive Climate For the New School Year
August 10 2015

5 Ways to Create a Positive Climate For the New School Year

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:

A Grateful Mother Speaks About the Impact of Being an Upstander
May 11 2015

A Grateful Mother Speaks About the Impact of Being an Upstander

This week's guest blog is written by the mother of a Safe School Ambassador in northern California.

Community Does Matter – The Longing for Belonging
March 17 2015

Community Does Matter – The Longing for Belonging

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.

Students Creating School Climate Improvement
September 18 2014

Students Creating School Climate Improvement

We know we can’t legislate civility nor can we punish children into being more tolerant. The only viable solution to the spread of the bullying virus on school campuses today is to change the social norms that allow it to occur.

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...

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.

Dateline NBC “My Kid Would Never Bully”
March 9 2011

Dateline NBC “My Kid Would Never Bully”

On March 6 at 7pm, Dateline NBC aired a captivating program about bullying, that I encourage everyone to watch.

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