Category: Blog

National Bullying Prevention Month – The Power of Student Voice

by Jade Sizemore, Outreach & Program Coordinator, Community Matters

Bullying can take many forms, from physical aggression and intimidation to more subtle behaviors that might not be apparent to an onlooker. In honor of National Bullying Prevention Month, we would like to draw attention to all types of bullying, especially those that are less obvious yet pervasive. Seemingly subtle put-downs, teasing, and acts of exclusion, are all forms of mistreatment that can lead a child to feel insecure and unsafe.

With teachers and administrators already facing unmanageable workloads, we must begin to view students as capable contributors to a culture

How Youth Empowerment Leads to a Positive School Climate and Academic Success

By Diana Curtin, CEO Community Matters

When effective youth empowerment is integrated as an integral way of operating, it is transformative for students, adults and schools. National best practices and current research validates that when schools make youth empowerment a cornerstone of their comprehensive school climate efforts, schools become communities where staff and students feel connected. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that feeling connected at school is the strongest protective factor for students to decrease substance use, school absenteeism, early sexual initiation, and violence; and notes the strong correlation between school connectedness and academic success.

We define

Bullying, Cyberbullying and Teen Suicide: Risks and Prevention Strategies

by William Grace Frost
Former Director of Strategic Relations, Community Matters

Data recently published by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), indicates that suicide is now the #1 cause of death for 11-14 years olds in America.

The first time I heard this statistic, it nearly took my breath away. Then after the shock wore off, my next thoughts were, “It must be a mistake or a misprint. How is it possible that anyone so young could feel such despondency and hopelessness as to want to take their own life, and even worse, that suicide could rise to the top

How Students Can Help Prevent Sexual Misconduct at School

by Dr. Glenn Lipson
Clinical and Forensic Psychologist,

In the insurance industry, SAM refers to sexual abuse and molestation incidents. It seems that every other day in the news there is another person in a school being accused of engaging in inappropriate intimacy with a student. One of these events is too many, but across the country and internationally, sexual misconduct keeps occurring.

It is a core belief, and demonstrated, that students know what is going on in their schools. They have a sense of the employees that stand too closely, who eye them down and undress them inappropriately

Risk Factors & Solutions For Supporting LGBTQ Students

by De Palazzo
Statewide Safe Schools Director, Equality Florida

When I was a youth, there was nothing that would aggravate me more than watching someone being treated like a second class person—simply because they were different, whether that difference be pertaining to their size, weight, shoes, hair, belt, how they walked, how they talked, held themselves, or skin color and socio-economic status. In my Catholic school in the early 70’s there was plenty of mistreatment to be found in every corner of our small school building.

As we walk our planet in 2019 and beyond, those reading this blog know

Peer Pressure and Peer Intervention – One Voice Can Make the Difference

by Lyndsey Burcina
Curriculum Developer & Program Coordinator, Metta Center for Nonviolence

Teen addiction rates are on the rise, and the cause can often be linked to the need for peer acceptance. Every day, youth between the ages of 11 to 18 are pressured by their peers to try something new. It used to be just alcohol and marijuana, but recently cocaine, LSD, and opioids have become more easily accessible to kids.

My experience with peer pressure and substance abuse is probably one of the most common. The summer before seventh grade I was hanging out with some friends from

A City’s Collaborative Approach to Violence Prevention

by Jason Carter
Violence Prevention Manager, City of Santa Rosa, CA

In the late 1990s and early 2000’s, the City of Santa Rosa was experiencing an increasing amount of violent street gang activity, and an acknowledgement by the Santa Rosa Police Department that the City could not arrest our way out of the gang problem. Although law enforcement efforts were critical, enforcement alone could not adequately address the systemic causes of youth and gang-related criminal activity. There was a growing recognition that a comprehensive approach was necessary, so in July of 2003, then Mayor of Santa Rosa Sharon Wright established

Amplifying Youth Voice in a Restorative School Community

by Sue Perkins
Director of Training & Program Development, Community Matters

“Begin with the end in mind.” – Stephen R. Covey

During staff development workshops I often ask educators to reflect and share why they decided on a career in education. “To support kids”, “Because I wanted to make a difference”, “My third-grade teacher changed my life and I want to do the same for other kids” are common responses. These answers are not huge surprises, and they don’t usually catch other participants off guard. However, as they continue to reflect on why they chose their careers, what it is

Youth Empowerment Is Key to Bullying Prevention

by Bernadette Sproul
Director of Finance & HR, Community Matters

As National Bullying Prevention Month is recognized in communities across America, with schools and other organizations joined as partners, awareness of bullying and its consequences continues to be a vital part of our nation’s conversation. Why is it so important to bring attention to this issue? Because it has been statistically proven that a positive school climate, where every student feels safe, is crucial for thriving, healthy and high-achieving students. At Community Matters, our flagship program Safe School Ambassadors® embodies the solution needed to undermine and prevent bullying and mistreatment

Successful School Climate Improvement: 5 Action Steps for Starting the Year Off Right

by Rick Phillips
Founder, Community Matters

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.

The current trends, research and legislation all highlight and promote the importance of school climate as a primary cornerstone and driver for improving safety, discipline, attendance and achievement. According to the National School Climate Center (NCSS), “Students benefit in many ways from safe, caring,