Bullying in Schools: A Strategic Solution

 Written by Joseph W. Mazzola President & CEO Character Education Partnership

Bullying in our nation’s schools is rampant.

Consider the following data points from the 2010 Federal Bullying Prevention Summit: every day, 160,000 students stay home out of fear of getting bullied at school; 1 in 3 students will be bullied this year (about 18M young people); 75-80% of all students observe bullying; and, depending on definition, 15-35% of students are victims of cyber-bullying.

Fortunately, our elected officials and others are now taking bold action. To their credit, for example, 43 states have passed anti-bullying legislation. 

I had the honor of representing CEP at the Summit. The key takeaways were: (1) bullying in schools is widespread; (2) the ramifications are very serious; (3) we need to learn more through research; (4) several government agencies are truly committed to taking this issue on; (5) policies and definitions need attention and clarity; (6) there are 67 programs that claim to combat bullying; (7) none of them has been shown to be effective through research; and (8) there is no simple, silver bullet solution.

As with all complex and chronic problems in our schools, narrowly focused intervention strategies typically fail to make a lasting impact. Zero tolerance policies, hallway posters and such all sound very good in theory. There is no doubt that they are also implemented by well-meaning people who really do want to make things better. However, according to many experts, such measures are shallow in nature and thus fail to achieve their intended purpose, especially over the long haul. Continue reading

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Optimizing the High School Experience

Since my first blog post generated a response from a high school teacher wondering about what the Forum will offer for educators at the secondary level, I thought I’d feature one of our PreForum workshops today: Optimizing the High School Experience.

Just take a look at the takeaways:

Participants will learn how to help secondary students…

  • Develop skills in perspective taking and empathy that lead to respectful and compassionate behavior.
  • Appreciate diversity and work collaboratively with their peers.
  • Build safe and respectful environments in their classrooms and school.
  • Develop positive relationships with their teachers.
  • Address underlying thoughts and emotions that interfere with learning.
  • Become self-motivated and engaged learners.
  • Identify their strengths, set goals, and prepare for their future. Continue reading
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The Greenfield Way: Transforming our School Culture with Character-Based Discipline

By Claudia St. Amour, counselor

By the fall of 2008, Greenfield Elementary School was well on its way to integrating its core values of respect, responsibility and kindness into our school culture.  This is when we began the serious task of taking a critical look at our school-wide discipline system, through the eyes of the Character Education Partnership’s 11 Principles and our own core values.

What Discipline Looked Like Then
Our school operated with a “ticket” system for severe infractions (from a list of disrespectful and unsafe behaviors) and “card turns” in the classroom (green to yellow to red and beyond).  Students who earned a ticket also earned the consequence of after-school detention.  Students who “got to red” on the color chart missed a recess or lost a similar privilege.  Chronic card turns also resulted, ultimately, in the student receiving a ticket as well.  On the reward side, we offered “Caught Being Good” slips for children who “did the right thing” when they thought no one was looking.  These slips were pulled from a jar in the office once a week for prizes at the school store.

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