Roadmap to a Positive School Climate

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Understanding Connecticut's 2011 legislation, “An Act Concerning the Strengthening of School Bullying Laws”

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A Roadmap to Positive School Climate:

A Roadmap to Positive School Climate Understanding “An Act Concerning the Strengthening of School Bullying Laws” Presentation by: Steven Hernández, Esq. Director of Public Policy & Research Connecticut Commission on Children

Three questions to address::

Three questions to address: Who is a bully? What is bullying? What can you do about it?

Question 1: Who is a “bully”?:

Question 1: Who is a “bully”? Answer: No one. The law does not define who a bully is. Rather, it defines what bullying is.

Question 1: Who is a “bully”?:

Question 1: Who is a “bully”? NO ONE IS A BULLY . Bullying is about behavior : “communication” and/or “physical acts or gestures,” not about the particular actor.

Question 1: Who is a “bully”?:

Question 1: Who is a “bully”? Why focus on behavior? Creating a positive school climate is about having certain expectations about behavior/how we treat each other. If you focus on a “bully” rather than behavior, you risk isolating both the actor(s) and the target(s). When a bully is isolated we miss the opportunity to address the cause for the behavior.

Question 2: What is “bullying”?:

Question 2: What is “bullying”? What the law says: “Bullying,” like all behavior, is about cause and effect.

Question 2: What is “bullying”?:

Question 2: What is “bullying”? What the law says: “Bullying” can be: “(A) the repeated use by one or more students of a written, oral or electronic communication , such as cyberbullying , directed at or referring to another student attending school in the same school district.” Or…

Question 2: What is “bullying”?:

Question 2: What is “bullying”? What the law says: “Bullying” can also be: “(B) a physical act or gesture by one or more students repeatedly directed at another student attending school in the same school district, that” has certain effects…

Question 2: What is “bullying”?:

Question 2: What is “bullying”? What the law says: Look for … Words or Actions Repetition One or more actors A Target Same school or district

Question 2: What is “bullying”?:

Question 2: What is “bullying”? What the law says: “Bullying” behavior has certain effects … Causes physical or emotional harm to such student or damage to such student's property;

Question 2: What is “bullying”?:

Question 2: What is “bullying”? What the law says: “Bullying” behavior has certain effects … Places such student in reasonable fear of harm to himself or herself, or of damage to his or her property;

Question 2: What is “bullying”?:

Question 2: What is “bullying”? What the law says: “Bullying” behavior has certain effects … Creates a hostile environment at school for such student;

Question 2: What is “bullying”?:

Question 2: What is “bullying”? What the law says: “Bullying” behavior has certain effects … Infringes on the rights of such student at school; or

Question 2: What is “bullying”?:

Question 2: What is “bullying”? What the law says: “Bullying” behavior has certain effects … Substantially disrupts the education process or the orderly operation of a school.

To repeat, the law says “bullying” behavior has certain effects::

To repeat, the law says “bullying” behavior has certain effects: Causes physical or emotional harm to such student or damage to such student's property; Places such student in reasonable fear of harm to himself or herself, or of damage to his or her property; Creates a hostile environment at school for such student; Infringes on the rights of such student at school; or Substantially disrupts the education process or the orderly operation of a school.

Question 2: What is “bullying”?:

Question 2: What is “bullying”? Again, you are the first responder.

Question 2: What is “bullying”?:

Question 2: What is “bullying”? Again, you are the first responder. Effects to look for: A hurt student or damage to property; A student who’s afraid of being hurt; A hostile school environment; Infringement of rights at school , or; Disruption or disorder at school.

Question 2: What is “bullying”?:

Question 2: What is “bullying”? What about cyberbulling?

Question 2: What is “bullying”?:

Question 2: What is “bullying”? What the law says: “Cyberbullying” means any act of bullying through the use of the Internet, interactive and digital technologies, cellular mobile telephone or other mobile electronic devices or any electronic communications.

Question 2: What is “bullying”?:

Question 2: What is “bullying”? What the law says: “Cyberbullying” = bullying through the use of …

Question 2: What is “bullying”?:

Question 2: What is “bullying”? What the law says: “Cyberbullying” isn’t a different type of bullying, it’s a different way of bullying.

Question 2: What is “bullying”?:

Question 2: What is “bullying”? What the law means : “Cyberbullying” = Bullying through technology.

Question 2: What is “bullying”?:

Question 2: What is “bullying”? Think of the benefits of technology in communication!

Question 2: What is “bullying”?:

Question 2: What is “bullying”? Speed : We can get our thoughts out faster; Proximity : Technology make our spaces smaller, so I don’t have to be next to you to get your message; and Dissemination : We can get our message out to more people with greater ease.

Question 2: What is “bullying”?:

Question 2: What is “bullying”? Now, imagine how technology can impact bullying behavior…

Question 2: What is “bullying”?:

Question 2: What is “bullying”? Speed : Communication that hurts or threatens can get to their target faster; Proximity : Bullying behavior can now happen over long distances; actor(s) and target don’t need to be in the same room, and can even remain anonymous. Dissemination : With Facebook, Twitter and contact lists, bullying communication can reach many people at once.

Question 3: What can you do about it?:

Question 3: What can you do about it? “The key is WE.”

Question 3: What can we do about it?:

Question 3: What can we do about it? “The key is WE.”

Question 3: What can we do about it?:

Question 3: What can we do about it? We, the adults, must create a safe school climate where we “focus on the quality of the relationships within the school community between and among students and adults.” What the law says:

Question 3: What can we do about it?:

Question 3: What can we do about it? “You are not alone.” What the law means:

Question 3: What can we do about it?:

Question 3: What can we do about it? The law NOW requires each local and regional Board of Ed. to put into place a “safe school climate plan” to address the existence of bullying in each of its schools. What the law says:

Question 3: What can we do about it?:

Question 3: What can we do about it? The “safe school climate plan” includes a role for everybody that comes into contact with a student to ensure a safe school climate. What the law says:

Question 3: What can we do about it?:

Question 3: What can we do about it? The “safe school climate plan” creates a community to address bullying behavior; practically everyone that a student encounters throughout the school day is part of the safe school community. What the law means:

Question 3: What can we do about it?:

Question 3: What can we do about it? Who is part of the safe school community? Teachers Other school employees and human resources Administration Parents Students

Question 3: What can we do about it?:

Question 3: What can we do about it? What does a safe school community do? Focuses on preventing bullying behavior and intervenes when it occurs; Allows for anonymous reporting by students and parents/guardians; Investigates reported bullying behavior; Requires quick response on reported bullying; Keeps parents informed.

Question 3: What can we do about it?:

Question 3: What can we do about it? “A safe school community responds as a community!”

Question 3: What can we do about it?:

Question 3: What can we do about it? What resources should you expect to access? A community plan; A District safe school climate coordinator; An in-house safe school climate specialist; State-wide Safe School Climate Resource Network; Opportunities for training; and…

Question 3: What can we do about it?:

Question 3: What can we do about it? What resources should you expect to access? Each other! “The greatest resource in the safe school is you!”

A Roadmap to Positive School Climate:

A Roadmap to Positive School Climate Understanding “An Act Concerning the Strengthening of School Bullying Laws” Steven Hernández, Esq. Director of Public Policy & Research Connecticut Commission on Children 860.240.0075 steven.hernandez@cga.ct.gov

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