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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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...
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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
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.