In this COVID-19 upside down world there is no returning to business as usual, and there is no going back to the way it was. Our communities, our country and our world have been altered like never before. So, when schools re-open job number one must be to ensure that students feel, safe, welcome and connected to caring adults.
The historical image of what it means to be LGBTQ+ has just recently become a positive one, and that negative stigma still haunts us today. When we do not have healthy role models and have no concept of what it may mean to grow up in a society as a queer person, certain patterns are created: isolation, alienation/lack of belonging, social anxiety and a plethora of other symptoms of not feeling connected.
Sexual abuse and molestation present a significant and growing concern in our schools and communities, and educators, law enforcement and legislators are struggling to find solutions to this disturbing trend. Young people are in a unique and vital position to make a positive impact in preventing and stopping sexual misconduct.
While other alcohol and drug prevention trainings might suggest a “just say no” approach or rely on fear-based teaching, Community Matters focuses on empowering youth. The question we ask is: can we encourage young people to become upstanders, increasing their likelihood of standing up and speaking up when they witness dangerous or unhealthy choices being made by their friends?
When I first mention restorative practices, many people in the room think I’m only talking about restorative justice. The simplest way to understand it is that restorative practices involves a continuum of interventions and strategies that are both proactive and responsive. Restorative justice is ultimately a subset of restorative practices and is primarily only responsive in nature.
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.
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.
Although researchers have yet to make the direct correlation between bullying/cyberbullying and suicide, we do know that the prevalence of both phenomena is on the rise.
The most contemporary empirical research, as well as respected national and state surveys regarding at-risk behavior and resiliency for all youth, finds the risk factors for LGBTQ students to be sobering and stunningly escalated. GLSEN’s 2019 School Climate Survey found little improvement in safety, including discriminatory practices, lack of ability to use the appropriate restroom for transgender affirmed children, authentic identity and LGB and transgender students continual absence at school because of feeling unsafe or uncomfortable when in school.
From my perspective on peer pressure, it takes multiple people and multiple comments to convince someone to do something they don’t want to do, but it takes only one person and one voice to speak up and point out that it’s wrong. It takes only one person to say “you don’t have to do it”, and to change someone’s mind.