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.

School Bullying

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.

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.

Bullying, Cyberbullying and Teen Suicide: Risks and Prevention Strategies
December 5 2016

Bullying, Cyberbullying and Teen Suicide: Risks and Prevention Strategies

Research shows that suicide-related behaviors are caused by a myriad of factors, and are often not related to a single cause or incident. We also know that bullying/cyberbullying is one of the contributing factors in students turning to suicide as a “solution” to their problems.

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.

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.

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.

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. 

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.

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 and What To Do About It - Part 1: Moving From Theory to Practice
November 3 2014

Making Sense of School Climate and What To Do About It - Part 1: Moving From Theory to Practice

Once thought of as a second tier focus not on par with academics, school climate is now understood as a fundamental driver for effective learning to occur. Ensuring that a school is committed to having a positive climate starts with the leaders in charge valuing relationships and connectedness as the essential building blocks for developing a safe, positive and high performing school.

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.

Back to School - Setting the Stage for Positive School Climate
August 11 2014

Back to School - Setting the Stage for Positive School Climate

Whether you’ve been waiting expectantly for the first day of school to begin - or you’re shaking your head thinking "Is it that time again?” - one of the first priorities that needs our attention as teachers and administrators is remembering how important it is for our students to feel that school is a kind, inclusive and safe place to learn and grow.

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...

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