When bullying occurs, students’ physical and emotional safety may be negatively impacted. Bullying has negative impacts on students’ attendance, engagement, and sense of belonging at school. Simply put, bullying is a relationship issue. Prevention is the best way to address bullying, and the best prevention is proactive, positive relationship-building. Roaring Fork Schools have implemented structures to prevent bullying on many different levels, and continues to expand these measures in order to reduce bullying behaviors.
Cultivating positive relationships between teachers and students and among students is an integral piece in bullying prevention. Crew has been implemented in all grades at every school in the district. Through crew, students are provided with a dedicated time and structure to build positive relationships that are important to increase student engagement, sense of belonging, and success in school.
The Roaring Fork Schools are working to shift disciplinary practices from a more traditional, punitive approach to restorative practices which rely on a culture of building relationships and repairing harm.
“Restorative Practices are a set of informal and formal strategies intended to build relationships and a sense of community to prevent conflict and wrongdoing, and respond to wrongdoings, with the intention to repair any harm that was a result of the wrongdoing. Preventative strategies include community or relationship building circles, and the use of restorative language” (stopbullying.gov).
Building relationships and equity in classroom communities is the foundation of restorative practices. These relationships within the community are at the heart of bullying prevention.
Second Step Program
In 2017, our Roaring Fork Schools’ counselors unanimously chose to implement Second Step, a research-based social-emotional learning curriculum that includes bullying prevention lessons for our PreK-8 students. With support from the instructional team, sustainable implementation plans for this curriculum continue to be developed and monitored to ensure all students have access to the program. Second Step provides explicit instruction to students, enabling them to manage their own emotions, form healthy relationships, make good decisions, and cope with everyday social and academic challenges. Strong emotional regulation and management are protective factors for kids from exhibiting or experiencing bullying.
The district’s prevention specialists are grant-funded positions in each attendance area and are an additional resource to reduce bullying. Prevention specialists work to support student success by addressing risk factors and working within schools to promote healthy and safe behaviors while preventing substance abuse and violence. In addition to working directly with students, prevention specialists provide education and resources to parents.