Making Peace Work

  • Making PEACE

    WORK for All Students

     

     

    How Did I End Up HERE?”  The answers to this question with regard to bullying and prevention were part of the key discussions led by Sayville Middle School Social Worker Dawn Lloyd-Matthews and Principal Dr. Walter Schartner at a recent New York State Middle Level Liaisons semiannual meeting in Albany, New York. As one of the six middle schools in New York to earn the Essential Elements: School to Watch designation for a second time, Sayville Middle School was invited to share our best practices through a training workshop.

     

    Educating educators about successful practices in bullying prevention through a Principals’ Workshop Presentation, Mrs. Lloyd-Matthews , accompanied by Principal Dr. Schartner, first explained the Peaceworks program—the result of Sayville’s districtwide coalition committee—which has been implemented in Sayville School District since 2000. In each Sayville school building, social workers like Mrs. Lloyd-Matthews provide training to staff, students, and parents, ensuring a collaboration that is vital to the program’s success. This Sayville character-education program currently serves K-9, with plans to expand it through grade 12 by next year.

     

    Mrs. Lloyd-Matthews also emphasized that bullying is unlawful according to both state and federal hate crimes legislation. In New York State, the legislation identifies criminal acts of bias as threatening, intimidating, harassing, aggravating, and includes simple assault.

     

    Having practiced in Sayville Schools what she preached, Mrs. Lloyd-Matthews was able to field questions from the Middle Level administrators and educators. She identified types of bullying along with the “foul” behaviors associated with bullying and offered “rules of engagement” in fighting fair. She delineated the progressive steps in discipline procedures that help both the bully and the victim understand what brought them into both the confrontation and the consequences. Mrs. Lloyd-Matthews also explained that the students’ roles in the bullying situation could change. Sometimes the student is the bully, sometimes the victim, or even a bystander. Since these roles may be different for each situation, it is important to determine without assumptions what part the student has played.

     

    Once the student can discover “How Did I End Up HERE?” the steps for solutions can be taken. For example:

               Students who are the aggressors are taught to restrain destructive responses through the use of self-talk, to identify the behaviors that are considered foul, and to develop solutions to wrong behavior.

               Students who are victimized by bullying are taught ways to empower themselves with the same set of questions and steps as those used to sensitize the bully.

     

    Another complication is cyberbullying. Sayville integrated the I-Safe and Power to Learn Internet Smarts, sponsored through Cablevision and Senator Foley, as a more comprehensive approach to address this and other internet safety issues.

     

    At the Middle States Meeting, Mrs. Lloyd-Matthews encouraged her audience to increase their awareness of the sometimes subtle signs of bullying. This would enable them to take more responsibility in prevention and it would facilitate addressing each occurrence with greater success. She reminded them that raising the self-esteem in both the bullies and victims will not only assist the students in gaining positive acceptance from their peers, the districts could significantly reduce the incidences of bullying.

     

    After Mrs. Lloyd-Matthews ’ thorough presentation, many of the Middle Level principals were pleased they had “ended up here.”

    *********

    In addition to the recent Albany meeting, last June Mrs. Lloyd-Matthews presented Sayville’s Character Education and Peaceworks program at the "Girl Bullying & Other Forms of Relational Aggression" National Conference in Las Vegas.

     

Related Files