Stories from the Not In Our Town network. This week: Mike Schlesinger is an upstander in his community of Marshalltown, Iowa (pop. 28,000). Watch his story.
anti-bullying awareness and prevention
VIDEO: Student Designs Anti-Bullying App for Schools Driven by his personal experiences being bullied in eighth grade, 17-year-old Brandon Boynton has created a new app called The BullyBØx that aims to stop cyberbullying. According to WishTV, The BullyBØx is free for students at the schools where it is implemented, and allows them to anonymously report incidents and email screenshots directly to school administrators. The anonymity of the app encourages students who report cyberbullying to feel like upstanders rather than “snitches.” Liberty Christian High School in Anderson, IN is the first school to implement The BullyBØx, and several schools are following suit. Superintendent Lynn Staley is excited for the new anti-bullying tool, stating, “It makes it simple. It’s easy to use. You can use it on all technology. It’s anonymous. Why wouldn’t we want to do that?” Since creating The BullyBØx, Brandon has partnered with Pro-Claim, a nonprofit that works to encourage people to live without limits, and has set up an Indie GoGo fund to raise money for the app’s expansion.
By David Yusem Program Manager, Restorative Justice Oakland Unified School District Harmed people harm people. That is a phrase we use a lot in restorative justice. Traditionally in our schools we have used punishment as a way to distance ourselves from unwanted behavior. I am not aware of any studies proving that suspending for misbehavior increases attendance, achievement, or graduation rates for the rest of the student population. However, there are plenty of studies indicating a direct correlation between suspension and decrease in attendance, graduation, and drop out rates for the suspended student. We call this the school-to-prison pipeline, and here in Oakland, CA, it particularly affects African-American students. At Oakland Unified School District, African-American students make up about 34 percent of the population and, as of the beginning of last year, they made up 67 percent of the suspensions.
As a school district administrator, Matt Tullis has played an important role in linking his school district to the Marshalltown Not In Our Town community effort to address bullying and intolerance. With his leadership, the school district has taken a strong stand, sponsoring Not In Our School schoolwide activities like Friday Night Lights and classroom activities. In 2013, Matt was sent as an emissary from Marshalltown to Hungary as that country began to set up their efforts. Marshalltown will be present in force with a contingent at the Not In Our Town National Leadership Gathering where you can learn more about their inspiring efforts. —Becki Cohn-Vargas, Not In Our School Director Tell us about your school community.
Livia Thomas and I met in 2012 when she sent on a note of desperation about a bullying incident at her elementary school. Principal Judy Nye and Livia were terribly concerned that their well-managed and peaceful Grimmer Elementary School had ongoing bullying that had not been reported, while hosts of students were negatively impacted. Grimmer’s situation is not uncommon. Students often are afraid or ashamed to tell adults about being bullied. Dr. Jonathan Cohen, Director of the National School Climate Center, says that in numerous cases, bullying is not reported while staff are oblivious that a calm exterior masks terrible incidents of bullying, teasing, and intolerance. Bullying is everywhere, but taking concrete steps to prevent and respond make a big difference. That is just what Livia and Principal Judy did. That is why we selected Grimmer as the site of our first elementary film production and we were thrilled with the outcome. —Becki Cohn-Vargas, Not In Our School Director
Several Palo Alto, CA schools host Not In Our School weeks this month, devoting time to recognizing and combating discrimination and stereotypes. Not In Our School (NIOS) has been present at Gunn High School for 12 years. While Gunn promotes acceptance and awareness to its students year-round, the NIOS week allows students to actively think about these topics and participate in assemblies and activities with classmates. Gunn’s theme is “We’re all in this together,” according to Palo Alto Online.
By Becki Cohn-Vargas, Not In Our School Director Schools love to do anti-bullying assemblies to motivate the student body. Students may learn in motivational assemblies, but change can only happen when assemblies are part of a long-term plan with students in the driver’s seat. Not In Our School designed a model for a student-led assembly that can be carried out in any school, youth group, or community. The assembly incorporates the Not In Our School Core Principles with students taking the lead in addressing bullying and intolerance. Students learn to be upstanders and work toward an accepting and identity safe school environment with the support of the larger community. This assembly was successfully piloted in two schools. The guide provides step-by-step tools to design your school assembly. Feel free to customize it to your needs. And the good news is: it does not cost a penny. Not In Our School now offers the Anti-Bullying Launch Assembly Kit, including:
Tracy Maier attends an awards ceremony for daughter Hanna, as she receives the Upstander of the Week award from The Bully Project. Tracy Maier is a Pennsylvania mom who moved into action after her child was bullied. She contacted Not In Our School to help not only her daughter, but all the children in her area who have been bullied and asked for help in getting things started in her community. Since that time, we have been in touch as both Tracy and her daughter Hanna have become leaders, taking risks, speaking with civic leaders, and organizing campaigns—all things that they never had done before. It is an example of how anyone can step up. Photos of Tracy and her daughter’s activities are featured in the Not In Our School Parent Guide. —Becki Cohn-Vargas, Not In Our School Director Tell us about your school community.
A Clever and Informative Response to “That’s So Gay” At Ignite Boulder, a night of presentations in Boulder, CO featuring speakers about their topic of choice, LGBTQ advocate Ash Beckham gave a hilarious and clever presentation about the proper usage of the phrase, “That’s so gay.” Ash creates a humorous flowchart depicting the proper situations to use the term “that’s so gay” in the hopes of creating a larger societal shift towards acceptance of the LGBTQ community. The overall message of her presentation is made even more clear when she says, “Say what you mean, and mean what you say, because the words that you choose matter.” Bill in Iowa house addresses cyberbullying
A Movement to End Bullying, Hate, and Intolerance February 28, 2013 8:30 am - 3:30 pm Hayward Unified School District Office 24411 Amador Street, Hayward, CA Co-Presenters: Becki Cohn-Vargas Director, Not In Our School Lynn Bravewomon Coordinator, Hayward USD Safe and Inclusive Schools Program