The San Bernardino City Unified School District (SBCUSD) held a school harassment/bullying workshop for over 15 parents and district employees on Tuesday, Jan. 14, at the Special Education Professional Learning Center off Highland Avenue in San Bernardino.
The objectives were to describe the district’s Bullying Intervention Team System. Program Specialist Stephanie Fletcher and Michelle Myers from SBCUSD’s Positive Youth Development department lead the workshop.
Fletcher taught attendees how to recognize bullying behaviors, which are put into the three categories and sub-categories:
Repeated or Pervasive: physical incident or something posted online
Intentional: Is it meant to harm someone
Power Imbalance: Physical Power, Intellectual Power and Social Power
Myers then educated people on why bullying happens; she says kids who tend to bully are those who target kids with differences and “go after it.”
Myers says the bullies may be leaders, someone other kids look up to or someone who has a lot of social power. She describes the bullying as a coercive behavior to get kids with differences to “conform into being the same.” Myers says kids who don’t conform to the “expectation” of the “group norms” in elementary, middle school or high school “usually ends up being a target of that type of bullying.”
Fletcher also said that certain behaviors are not bullying, for example, if a friend teasing another friend who thought the teasing was funny is not consider bullying.
Fletcher and Myers then explained what the district was doing to prevent bullying, with the district's anti-bullying intervention system known as Undercover Anti-Bulling Teams (UABT). Marlene Bicondova, the Director of Positive Youth Development, created the program in 2015. When a case of bullying arises parents and kids can call or come into the Youth Services Department. However, if a child who is being bullied or is a witness to bullying is too embarrassed to report in person they are provided a QR code (Quick Response code) that can be used with any smart-phone to report anonymously. The department then within 24 business hours following the report of bullying, schedules an appointment for a screening with the child and the parent to determine if it’s bulling.
Bicondova says that 50 percent to 60 percent of bullying cases reported are due to “conflict,” which is addressed through “restorative practices” to help resolve the conflict.
If it is determined to be bulling a team of six influential peers is secretly assembled as an anti-bullying team. Together they are told the victim’s story and struggles (without identifying who is doing the bullying) and they are assigned the mission to look out for their classmates. The support of the influential peer(s) helps the student being bullied feel welcome and discourages the person doing the bullying from continuing.
At the start and throughout the process the student being bullied is asked to rate the bullying on a scale of zero to 10, 10 being the worst, and once they reach a zero rating the team is informed, they are congratulated with a party, thanked by the principal and the team is disbanded.
Fletcher and Myers want kids to celebrate their differences, diversity and “respecting people for who they are.”
For more information on SBCUSD’s Anti-Bully Intervention System go to sbcusd.com/bullying or call the Youth Services Department at (909) 880-6812.