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Message from the Superintendent: Bullying Prevention Committee/Rosalind Wiseman

Posted October 08, 2013 in Community Blogs, Clive, West Des Moines

Message from the Superintendent:  Bullying Prevention Committee/Rosalind Wiseman

During my career in education, I have found that some of the most powerful efforts to help children have occurred when people come together.

Last year, I was able to work with a group of principals, teachers and counselors in our school district who gathered for a very important task – to make sure our schools are healthy and safe environments for the children of our community.

The goal of the committee was to put in place systemic, comprehensive programming to prevent bullying and intervene effectively when bullying occurs. This work is important in order to create a healthy and safe school climate, to increase academic achievement, prepare each student for a happy and healthy future.

Academic-Mega research studies show that addressing students’ social emotional needs through a school-wide program will result in a 10% increase in academic achievement (a 10 percentile increase in standardized math and reading scores).

If we want our students to be healthy productive adults we need to intervene with those who engage in bullying behaviors to prevent ongoing bullying behaviors. Bullying is aggressive behavior that is intentional and that involves an imbalance of power or strength. This behavior is often repeated over time and takes many different forms.

Author Barbara Coloroso said, “Bullying is a learned behavior. If it can be learned, it can be examined, and it can be changed.” Because severely bullied students are impacted for a lifetime, we want to intervene early.

Therefore, the committee is planning, designing, and implementing a more comprehensive approach that involves assessment, school committees, parent and community involvement, a review of school rules and policies, and more. Possibly the most important component is devoting some classroom time to bullying prevention.

The committee work revolves around the Ten Components of a Quality Bullying Prevention Program:

1. Focus on the social environment of the school.

2. Assess bullying at your school.

3. Garner staff and parent support for bullying prevention.

4. Form a group to coordinate the school’s bullying prevention activities.

5. Train your staff in bullying prevention.

6. Establish and enforce school rules and policies related to bullying.

7. Increase adult supervision in hot spots where bullying occurs.

8. Intervene consistently and appropriately in bullying situations.

9. Focus some class time on bullying prevention and building relationships.

10. Continue these efforts over time.

Last year, several committee members had the opportunity to hear author and bullying prevention expert Rosalind Wiseman, who wrote the best-selling book Queen Bees and Wannabes. The book was the basis for the movie Mean Girls. She was the featured speaker at last year’s Governor’s Bullying Summit.

Members saw that she understands the tough job that teachers have with 30 students and little extra time during the school day to address things outside of academics. She gave teachers the words to say and follow up steps to take when they see an incident occur or when a student reports a concern.

The committee decided to invite Ms. Wiseman to our district and community.

She will be part of the district’s professional development day for staff on Monday, Oct. 14.

On Sunday, Oct. 13, Ms. Wiseman will hold a session for parents and community members at 7 p.m. at the Valley Community Center (4444 Fuller Rd., WDM). Doors will open for the seminar at 6 p.m. Books will be available for sale from 6-7 p.m., with Wiseman speaking from 7-8 p.m. There will be a question and answer session before a book signing from 8:30-9 p.m.  The seminar is being presented in part through a Polk Country Community Betterment Grant.

It is important for all adults to help kids understand bullying, to talk about what bullying is, how to stand up to bullying safely, to tell kids bullying is unacceptable and make sure kids know how to get help.

Students learn from adults’ actions.  If adults model treating others with kindness and respect, students will follow suit and treat their friends and others with kindness and respect.

As President Barack Obama said, “Bullying isn’t a normal rite of passage or an inevitable part of growing up. We all have an obligation to ensure that our schools are safe for all our children.

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