Assessing a School Climate for Bullying
In order to choose the right program or plan of action, a school's overall climate for bullying needs to be assessed, says Laura Danna (bio).
And so, part of that prevention piece is assessing school climate. How does everybody feel about bullying? Do the adults feel like, "This is a normal part of growing up and the kids just have to deal with it," or do they recognize that bullying, and especially cyberbullying, is a potentially dangerous situation and that it really takes all hands on deck to be able to do it?
So the first thing we really do is tease that out a little bit. So, "What's going on, what's bringing up this concern? Let's do some school climate assessment." Some people like to do it formally. Some people like to do it more informally. And then, oftentimes, what happens after that is, "Well, what are the policies and the rules? What are the regulations?" And some schools have that and some schools don't.
In New Orleans, we work with so many different school districts and systems that it's not a universal thing. So the next thing we try to do is say, "Okay, if you have a policy, is it working? Do people know about it? Is it outdated? How can we work on that?"
So I think another piece of the school climate is — This isn't always a top down approach. What are the administrators seeing? What are the kids reporting? What do the teachers feel like? And then, together, what program are we going to use that makes a difference? Because that determines what clubs you have, how the hallways look, how the classroom rules are, how people are reporting either if you're going with the Actively Caring for People, how are people reporting kind acts and great things or how are you reporting the bullying and the bad things? There needs to be everybody. Everybody involved. And so, it's important to recognize that all of those voices need to be there at the beginning and not, all of a sudden, you choose something and then, it's not working and you're wondering why. We really need to have all voices heard at the beginning and make an informed choice about what's best for your school, and the issues that you're having.
Excerpted from an interview at SSET Training 2013 in Los Angeles, CA.