POSITIVE YOUTH DEVELOPMENT
Giving youth a significant and meaningful role in bullying education, prevention and intervention has emerged as a powerful strategy for change and improvement.
- Following are several examples of how BPI grantees are tapping the energy and expertise of young people, developing their leadership potential, and empowering them to serve as visible, vocal agents of change in their schools and communities.
University of Denver Bridge Project
The DU (University of Denver) Bridge Project, established in 1991, focuses on enhancing educational achievement and opportunity for young people living in four of the city’s public housing neighborhoods. Programs range from tutoring, homework assistance and career exploration, to cultural enrichment and leadership development activities.
DU Bridge is among several BPI grantees that have developed a peer-mentoring program that trains middle and/or high school students to teach younger kids about bullying prevention. Having teens model leadership and positive behavior is a particularly effective way to get the “no bullying allowed” message across to children in the lower grades, and in a way that promotes a sense of school community.
Like other BPI grantees serving culturally diverse populations, DU Bridge has had to grapple with the reality that many parents see it as their job to instill a sense of “toughness” in their children. Requesting help to fend off bullying is considered undesirable compared to the ability to fight it off by oneself. Thus, it is clearly important to collaborate with parents in a way that brings them along on the issue of bullying, without sending the message that their values are wrong. The emphasis should be on cultivating parents’ support for strategies that contribute to all children’s safety and well being.
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Del Norte School District
Del Norte, Colorado
The active involvement of students and staff is a cornerstone of the Del Norte School District’s efforts to develop bullying-prevention programming at the high school level.
In response to teachers’ concerns about the age-appropriateness of some programs, Del Norte High School principal Chris Vance and bullying-prevention coordinator brought together students and staff for three full days of focused discussions and strategic planning. Based on the information, ideas and insights gleaned from these sessions, the school’s Action Team is developing a plan that includes life skills, intervention strategies, age-appropriate activities and greater interaction between students and teachers.
Students responded positively and openly to being asked their opinion about what needs to be done to make Del Norte High School a caring community. Vance and Salvato were able to turn a challenge into a strength-based solution and lay the groundwork for an effective, sustainable program.
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Mountain Resource Center (MRC)
MRC is a nonprofit organization that focuses on the needs of individuals and families in rural mountain areas southwest of metropolitan Denver, where hidden poverty, geographic isolation and inaccessibility to health and human services contribute to community fragmentation, youth disenfranchisement and other problems.
Among its youth-focused activities is the PACT (Peer Actions Connecting Teens) program, which trains teen-age boys and girls in an anti-bullying curriculum that they deliver to elementary and middle school students in their areas.
The curriculum consists of 30-minute sessions (12 for elementary schools, eight for middle schools) on topics such as stereotyping, bystanding and intervening, self esteem, anger, cliques and friendships. The PACT leaders engage students in discussion, brainstorming, role playing and sharing personal stories. The 66 young people currently participating in the program receive training, coaching and support throughout the school year, and a member of the MRC staff is present for each session.
MRC also provides opportunities for teen leaders to sponsor safe, drug-free events for youth, conduct community forums to build cross-generational communication, and publish magazines for local youth and adult audiences highlighting health, safety and social issues.
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