Bullying leads the headlines across the nation as a growing and pervasive threat to our progress toward inclusion, diversity and trust as a community. The new heartwarming and inspiring movie, Wonder, illustrates the damage of bullying in a new film that depicts the journey of a boy with facial differences who goes from being homeschooled to enrolling in an elementary school for the first time. Several scenes show how misunderstandings, fear of the unfamiliar, power struggles and collusion lead to bullying and how disconnected relationships further exacerbate the situation. Without giving the movie away for those who haven’t seen it, the movie also highlights the importance of advocates, being brave and having the courage to speak up or stand up for someone else.
In an effort to keep our school communities free from the harm of bullying, district and school staff have been working with parents and advocates to prevent bullying from happening in our schools by updating policies, regulations and programs related to bullying prevention and supporting the emotional and behavioral health of our students. New this year, Kaiser Permanente interns from the Psychiatry Department will begin offering several workshops to staff, families and students on topics that range from Pathways to Emotional Wellness, Adverse Childhood Experiences, Managing Depression and Understanding Your Anxiety. Additionally, district staff will continue to deliver training for staff in the area of Suicide Awareness, Youth Mental Health First Aid, LGBTQ Awareness and Bullying Prevention.
Opportunities for parents and the community include invitations to participate in the Family and Wellness Series. These workshops offer parents and community members an education on a variety of topics that include but are not limited to, Bullying Prevention, Suicide Awareness, Anxiety in Childhood and Adolescents, Love and Logic, Social Media: Screenagers, and Drug and Alcohol Awareness. For our students, our Youth Development office has an ongoing partnership with Kaiser Permanente to provide training and materials to support bullying prevention.
With all Elk Grove Unified schools now trained in Tier 1 PBIS (Positive Behavior Intervention & Supports), school sites use the information from these trainings to create positive school climates that encourage students to Expect Respect. The focus of these trainings is to provide the school staff with the tools they need to develop interventions and supports for students who need a greater level of social and emotional care. Students also learn steps they should take when confronted with bullying behavior. In addition to supporting those who are the victims of bullying, our district website provides staff and parents a wealth of resources on bullying prevention. The website contains links to information, lessons on bullying prevention as well as steps to address bullying behavior.
With the growing challenges of Cyberbullying, the district’s Digital Citizenship and Second Step Curriculum to educate students about social media also helps develop student social emotional learning. These lessons keep students engaged in a variety of activities that promote a positive and caring environment as does their involvement in the annual Middle School Conference, Unity Days, and Challenge Days.