Center Consolidated Schools – Social Norming Campaign
In the small, rural town in the San Luis valley, Center Consolidated Schools, where 93% of the approximately 610 students receive free and reduced lunch, students are winning the battle against bullying. The district has collected student level health and risk behavior data for about a decade. They knew teen pregnancy and drug and alcohol abuse rates were high, but wanted the students to be a part of the process and have a voice. Using the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s “Nothing About Us, Without Us” positive youth engagement guide, students became a part of the process and helped to analyze the data. The students themselves noticed increasing rates of bullying, and they decided to take a stand. With funding from the Colorado Legacy Foundation, a monthly collaboration of students, parents, teachers, administrators, counselors, and county officials collected and analyzed new data, which included parent and student surveys, to pinpoint grade levels and locations where bullying was most prominent.
Armed with information and aimed to prevent bullying incidents versus responding, the district updated its bullying policy to include enumeration language; teachers and staff received on-the-spot intervention training, which will become an annual professional development; and district leaders attended the Bullying Prevention Institute. Over 130 parents attended a bullying prevention seminar hosted by the school district, and most powerfully, students engaged in a social norming campaign. After gathering ideas for logos, slogans, and messages, students created posters and placed them all over the middle and high schools. They held events such as “Stand for Change Day” and the “Walk Against Bullying” where over 150 kids who pledged not to bully walked with their parents in the community. Students empowered each other to take a stand against bullying, choosing to “Be a buddy, not a bully.”
Bullying prevention and intervention curricula will be added to life-skills classes at the high school, and the district works hard to coordinate and collaborate with all other health efforts occurring in the district, including physical activity, mental health and family and community engagement. Center has placed the students’ campaign posters and slogans throughout the school building to promote a safe and welcoming environment. In fact, school staff attest to the changes in conversations, saying they often hear the students’ slogan and noticing an overall improvement
towards a positive school climate.
On the Healthy Kids Colorado Survey, students who reported a low commitment to school have steadily decreased from 65% in 2007 to 30% in 2012. On this same survey, students who reported being bullied on school property decreased from 33% in 2007 to 18% in 2012, and students who reported being absent from school due to safety concerns also decreased during the same time period from 12% to 4 percent. Center Consolidated Schools truly stood for change, and the student graduation percentage has increased from 81% in 2009–2010 to 90.3% in 2011-2012.
An 8th grader at Center explained, “The ‘Be a Buddy, Not a Bully’ program has made our school more aware of what bullying is, and it has made kids more aware of the effects of bullying.