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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Bullying School Systems

I am disappointed with school districts' leadership. I am particularly impatient with districts' bullying and harassment prevention policies' leadership. I write the word "prevention" here but really, in my experience, it feels more appropriate to leave it out. It feels like they really are policies of bullying and harassment....and the "how-to" of said policies.

It seems to me there is more effort in "looking good" than effort into really making strides in keeping children and adults emotionally safe in our schools; safe so students can relax and learn and adults can relax and teach.

For example, district leadership may state that a bullying and harassment policy is an "unfunded mandate." Unfunded mandates, for me, simply mean you find someone to help.

I watched a video about the creation of Miami-Dade County's Children's Trust. I was moved by its beginning. A little girl who was good in math helped a little boy who wasn't good in math. He, though, was an artist. So, out of gratitude he drew a lovely picture for her. They both were smiling in the video. It was a beautiful example of partnership.

Everybody wins when each is allowed to contribute.

I've asked my district--the district where my child goes to school--to allow me to contribute. I've asked my distrct to allow me to help train schools, employees, children, parents and communities in effective bullying prevention.  I've asked to help many times. Almost four years now of asking.

I've not yet been allowed to contribute. Instead I've been warned. I've been warned by a district director to "watch my place." It's as if my place weren't to help children be safe from bullying.

I've been told I don't represent the district. How is it possible that my enthusiastic willingness to put together grant requests for comprehensive bullying prevention, to partner with organizations willing to contribute their time and money, and to collaborate with communities does not represent the district? How is that possible?

How is it possible, for example, that a declaration that bullying prevention lessons are offered to all children in all schools makes it so.....or "you want to hear about it?" It's as if a school that is NOT doing that is in "big trouble."

How is it possible that no data to support that declaration are required?

I've been told that "my program" is not sanctioned by the district. Oh, now this one most especially "sticks in my craw." The Olweus Bullying Prevention Program is not my program. It is a time tested and evidence based program that works. District leadership knows that. My district participated in the Florida Bullying Prevention Intitiative of 2009. Olweus is featured on my district's website.

Here's the truth: districts' bullying and harassment policies do not prevent much. Policies are focused on documentation of bullying events. They are not focused on preventing those events from happening.

Ah. Now that takes commitment. That takes fortitude, education, and perseverance.

Please admit that, district leaders. Please move on. Take a deep and cleansing breath and move on. Truly help those of us working in schools; those of us living, daily, the meanness of many children and adults; those of us desperate for your leadership.

I am frustrated, but I am not dissuaded. I will continue to partner with other like minded and hearted people who simply want to make the world a kinder place for all of us.

I hope that includes you, school districts' leaders of the bullying and harassment policies. I hope it includes you.

Next up: school climate/ district climate. 

Hey everybody!  Step on out this week!  Be courageous!  Go ahead and DARE A MIGHTY THING.

6:02 am edt          Comments

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Click here for my district's bullying and harassment policy. You will see I have made comments....