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 Climate

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?

How School Punishment is Being Replaced by Restorative Approaches
March 8 2017

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.

Cyberbullying – A New Face on an Old Problem
February 21 2017

Cyberbullying – A New Face on an Old Problem

With the widespread adoption of social media and smartphones by teens and even younger children, bullies have another playground in which to inflict meanness on their targets: cyberspace.

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.

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...

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.

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. 

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:

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.

Restorative Practices: 5 Keys to Successful Implementation - Part 1
February 2 2015

Restorative Practices: 5 Keys to Successful Implementation - Part 1

In this 2-part series we outline 5 key strategies for successful implementation of restorative practices (RP). In this first part we will address the first two:

- Strong Leadership / Leading Restoratively

- Creating a Learning Organization

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