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Collin Breaux, Dana Point Times

In the wake of “Black Lives Matter” protests this summer and calls from students and alumni to address cultural and racial inequity, Capistrano Unified School District (CUSD) is considering modifications to their policy on bullying.

A first reading of the revised policy was read to the CUSD Board of Trustees during a meeting on Nov. 18. A second reading for a formal vote of approval is expected to come back before the board at a Dec. 16 meeting.

District staff reviewed CUSD’s policy after members of CUSD Against Racism highlighted topics of concern regarding marginalized groups, particularly when it comes to harassment experienced by students over their ethnicity and appearance, as well as for other reasons.

“The language changes more in the sense that it clears up or clearly defines bullying and what groups may be potentially targeted,” said Susan Holliday, Chief Administrative Officer of Education and Support Services.

Bullying can include sexual harassment, hate-motivated behavior, discrimination, cyberbullying, hazing or initiation activity, extortion, or harassment, according to the proposed revisions.

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  • Balance the Mind and Heart: Create a Mindset that Combats Bullying By Cecile Wren

    Educators need to focus changing the fabric of our school communities by creating resilient schools that meet the social, emotional and academic needs of our students. Social and Emotional Literacy (SEL) is a proven student-centered approach to education that integrates the social, emotional, and academic dimensions of learning. SEL improves educational success by helping students manage their emotions, build effective relationships, and work through life’s challenges in constructive and ethical ways. Research links SEL to better school climate, stronger commitment to learning, fewer negative behaviors, and higher standardized test scores.

    The ability to navigate through the challenges that we are presented with daily was described by Aristotle when he said:

    Anyone can become angry – this is easy.
    But to be angry with the right person,
    To the right degree, at the right time,
    For the right purpose, and
    In the right way
    That is not easy.

    To provide students with the necessary skills and competencies to meet these challenges we need to create resilient schools that utilize SEL as a proactive approach. This approach will focus on creating a school culture that provides Dignity for All Students by:

    • encouraging students to become emotionally intelligent leaders by developing the skills of self-awareness, social-awareness, self-management, relationship-management and responsible decision making
    • utilizing UPSTANDER responsibility strategies to create an anti-bullying mindset
    • providing staff with professional development initiatives that will enable them to internalize and role-model the behaviors and attitudes they expect of their students (The Theory of Self-first)
    • emphasizing that bullying reduction requires a multifaceted and integrated approach: strong leadership, capacity building through the creation of professional learning communities, a strong focus on interpersonal skills, enhancing cultural sensitivity and parent/community involvement. (Researchers: Olweus, Limber, Espelage and Swearer)

    While bullying is a pervasive problem in many schools, schools can take specific steps to improve the school climate and encourage positive interactions designed to reduce or prevent bullying. Schools using a social and emotional learning (SEL) framework can foster an overall climate of inclusion, warmth, and respect, and promote the development of core social and emotional skills among both students and staff. Because bullying prevention is entirely congruent with SEL, it can be embedded in a school’s SEL framework. (Researchers: Ragozzino and O’Brien 2009)

    In order to effectively combat bullying, we need to develop an ongoing process that focuses on a reflective process that includes: education, intervention, prevention and behavior management.

    If we naturally integrate this process into the culture of our school community, we are able to bring about systemic change. By developing a culture where all constituencies effectively utilize a common knowledge base of research-based strategies you are not only developing an awareness but also providing an understanding of what skills and strategies can be utilized in handling each of the situations. Through these efforts all constituencies understand that bullying is not addressed in isolation, but it is interconnected with refining social, emotional, ethical, and academic literacy skills and competencies. These skills and competencies have a positive impact on one’s attitude and behavior, a ripple effect on the culture of the school community and will ultimately bring about systemic change. (Olweus, Limber, & Mihalic, 1999; Pepler, Craig, Ziegler, & Charach, 1994)

    Systemic change focuses on a clear vision that is understood and supported by all constituencies in a school community. The importance of SEL integration into the fabric of a school community is best summarized by Aristotle when he said . . .

    Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.

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