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.

Safe School Ambassadors

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.

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.

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 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 Matters partners with Twitter to reduce and prevent cyberbullying
April 28 2015

Community Matters partners with Twitter to reduce and prevent cyberbullying

Twitter and Community Matters are teaming together via a combination of shared resources to help reduce cyberbullying, by both identifying and preventing online abuse.

The Pain of Being Bullied – One Student’s Story
March 30 2015

The Pain of Being Bullied – One Student’s Story

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.

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.

10 Ways You Can Help Stop Bullying – A Guide for Parents & Teachers
March 2 2015

10 Ways You Can Help Stop Bullying – A Guide for Parents & Teachers

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.

Making Sense of School Climate - Part 5: Measuring, Collecting and Reporting Data
January 20 2015

Making Sense of School Climate - Part 5: Measuring, Collecting and Reporting Data

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.

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.

Now Is the Time for Restorative Justice
February 12 2014

Now Is the Time for Restorative Justice

Despite the best efforts of our nation’s schools, bullying, harassment, hazing, and cyber-bullying are persistent and pervasive issues that impact far too many students. These issues compromise both teaching and learning, negatively affect children’s social and emotional development, take excessive staff and administrative time, and cause many school districts to fall short of achieving the educational outcomes they are charged to reach.

Happy 13th Anniversary!: Safe School Ambassadors First Ever Program Launch
January 6 2014

Happy 13th Anniversary!: Safe School Ambassadors First Ever Program Launch

I am writing this blog on the 13th anniversary of the first ever Safe School Ambassadors program ever launched. On December 13 and 14, 2000, three of our local high schools attended a two-day training conducted by Rick Phillips and Chris Pack for a brand new program they called Safe School Ambassadors (SSA).

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...

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...

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.

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