New Directions

Welcome. I have been working for years on research and development of more positive strategies for schools to better foster positive relations between students and between staff and students. I have left all of the original text that has been on the home page of my site below, so you can see the tone and substance of what I have been trying to accomplish.

The approach schools are using to address the concerns of hurtful relationships flat is not working. This document explains why this is and what schools should be doing. You can also watch this short video here.

However, having tried and failed for years now in seeking to encourage schools to make positive changes, it is time for me to admit that what I am doing is flat not working. I am not alone. experts in bullying prevention across the country report the same challenges. Essentially, it appears that despite clear data and insight that there are serious concerns, school leaders are highly resistant to making any positive changes. Why?

My hypotheses is that there are a combination of factors. These include external factors of the myopic focus on achievement tests and lack of adequate funding. This also likely includes the fact that bullying behavior — being hurtful and disparaging of others to achieve social dominance — is well ingrained in our society, as recent happenings in the political arena clearly demonstrate.

The excessive demands on educators is also likely implicated. When I share with school leaders an approach I recommend to more fully investigate serious or chronic hurtful situations so that these can be better resolved, the most common response is “Principals don’t have time to do this.”

Principals do not have the time to investigate and intervene in hurtful situations that are causing profound, long-lasting emotional harm to students and interfering with their learning. 

I am now suspecting there is another factor at play here. This has become more evident with the #MeToo movement and the recent coming forth of survivors of sexual assault — followed by the public disparagement of these survivors by men in positions of social dominance. What has become clear is that the vast majority of survivors of sexual assault did not report — for good reason.

The vast majority of students who are bullied or harassed also do not report — for good reason. Students are always told, “Tell a school staff member, they will make it better.” This is false. Most often, after asking for help, things either stay the same or get worse. Students know this. This is why the vast majority remain silent. Do not ask for help.

Do not ask for help even though they are suffering profound emotional harm and are unable to fully participate in learning and other school activities!

By way of example, recent data from the Eugene 4J school district reveals that close to 9% of secondary students reported being bullied or harassed once a week or more and two-thirds said they would not ask for help from school staff. Clearly, given the numbers, these students are not reporting. The district’s plan of action meets Einstein’s definition for “insanity.”

My hypothesis is that because students have been told to report, but they are not reporting, this allows principals to rationalize that what students report on the survey is happening is not that bad and so in their school, things are really okay and they do not need to do anything more.

So perhaps this is a key reason that we are not seeing greater movement by educators towards positive change. If this is the case, then what is necessary is to raise better attention to these hurtful situations — so that principals can no longer rationalize that this is not a problem in their school.

To this end, I am launching a new approach here in Oregon, where I have been trying for several years now to reach out to school leaders. My communications have, at times, been passionately anguished — especially when the rate of youth suicide attempts was soaring.

It is probable that some Oregon school leaders view me as being an Impolite Arrogant Woman. Guilty as charged and apparently in good company.

I am a Proud Impolite Arrogant Woman who is passionately committed to ensure that schools make positive changes that will support all students and take steps to stop the daily torment some of our young people are facing every day when they go to school.

My new approach has several components:

  • #BulliedMeToo. I will probably take this to Twitter after I see how this works, but to start, I would like to proceed in a more protective manner. If you are a student, were a student, or are the parent of a student and you have a #BulliedMeToo story you would like to share, please send this to me at: bulliedmetoo@embracecivility.org 
    • Please explain what happened or is happening and how this impacted you. If you reported to the school, please explain how the school responded and the result. If you did not report incidents to the school, please explain why.
    • I will make sure that your story does not disclose personal information that should be kept confidential. I will make sure that Oregon school leaders,  state legislators, and the public hear of these stories. When I am certain this is working, I will launch this further.
  • Be Positively Powerful.  Be Positively Powerful is the draft of a new book I have written for teens — also for parents, especially parents of younger children. This book provides teens with seven positively powerful strategies to ensure they are a strong survivor of the bullying or harassment they have endured. This book also outlines how they can better document and report to the school when they are being treated badly — including how to file a complaint if the school does not respond effectively. You can download this book in a pdf format.
    • I would appreciate a donation for this book — suggested amount is $10 – 20. Any amount would be appreciated.
    • I would also appreciate feedback on what I have written, especially if you or your child use the positively powerful strategies or the approach to document the situation and file a complaint. I need this feedback to be able to improve on what I wrote for a release in final form. Please send this feedback to me: info@embracecivility.org.
    • Parents, you can find more insight into the positively powerful strategies following this link.
  • Bullying Resolution Services. While I have outlined how students and parents can better document the concerns and file a complaint with the district to make sure these concerns are addressed, there may be situations that are more challenging, for which you may desire advocacy assistance. This page provides greater information on the Bullying Resolution Services I offer.
    • It is my intent to offer these services on a sliding scale payment plan because I do not want to see any child or teen continue to experience bullying or harassment simply because their parent cannot pay. If you would like to make a donation to support the offering of these services, please use the donation link below. Note, I am not a 501c3 organization. But with the changes in the tax code, this appears to be less relevant for small donations.
    • One of my objectives in pursuing this route is to engage in such advocacy for a period of time so that I can determine the challenges and refine my approach. When I am more secure in knowing how to handle these situations, it is my intent to create a professional manual and provide training for professional service providers, such as parent advocates, counselors, peer support professionals, advocacy groups and others, so that they also can provide these resolution advocacy services to parents.
  • Positive School Climate Assessment. The research and guidance directed at how schools can ensure a positive school climate that supports and welcomes all students and supports those students who are at higher risk is quite clear. I have prepared this Positive School Climate Assessment that school leaders, parents, and community members can use to assist their local schools in conducting an assessment and making plans for positive change. More insight into the implementation of these strategies is in my book, Engage Students to Embrace Civility.
  • Oregon’s Anti-Bullying Statute. It is my intent to make recommendations to the Oregon State Legislature on how the statute can be amended to ensure greater accountability of schools in reducing hurtful behavior of students and effectively responding when the hurtful situations are witnessed or reported. These amendments will focus on incorporating the requirements under federal civil rights regulations and guidelines, that it is my perspective the vast majority of school districts are ignoring.
    • I have not yet written these proposed amendments, but will soon.

You can use this link to make a donation for the Be Positively Powerful book (suggested donation $10 – $20) or to provide support for parents who have requested a sliding scale for Bullying Resolution Services.

 

Embrace Civility In The Digital Age                 

Make a Positive Difference in the Lives of Young People Today!

The mission of Embrace Civility in the Digital Age is to provide guidance to caring adults so they can better engage young people to embrace civility and foster positive relations.

Embracing civility supports the full engagement of students in maintaining an environment where hurtful behavior is incompatible with the accepted social norms and where everyone takes responsibility for the quality of the relationships.

Sample Text

Engage Students to Embrace Civility provides guidance for school leaders on research-based strategies to:

  • Engage all members of the school community in the effort to establish a positive school climate that embraces kindness, inclusion, and civility.
  • Increase the effectiveness of teachers in supporting positive relations and responding to minor hurtful incidents in a restorative manner that supports increased resilience of the involved students.
  • Increase the effectiveness of principals in investigating and intervening in the more serious or chronic hurtful situations in a manner that supports increased resilience of all involved students, holds hurtful students accountable, remedies the harm, corrects environmental concerns, and ensures ongoing monitoring until all involved students indicate that things have gotten better.
  • Empower students to embrace kindness, inclusion, and civility by engaging students as leaders in this effort, using a positive norms approach to encourage positive behavior, and increasing student resilience and skills as a witness to a hurtful situation, the one being hurtful, or the one treated badly.

New Stuff

Engage Students to Embrace Civility

Watch a new short Engage Students to Embrace Civility Introductory Video here.

You can also download the slides for this video.

This is a document that outlines the Engage Students to Embrace Civility approach.

Are Our Students Okay? What Does the Data Tell Us?

This is a new report on what the data says about students in the Eugene/Springfield community.

This is a slideshow that shares the data from the Student Wellness Survey and the 4J survey.

This is the commentary that ran in the Register Guard.

Increase Student Resilience

This document provides insight into research-based strategies schools can use to increase student resilience.

Rethinking Token Rewards

This document outlines the concerns associated with the use of token rewards in schools, a feature of Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports.

This article provides helpful insight into the underlying concerns associated with PBIS, especially in relation to discouraging students. This passage from the research article is most focused on the concerns associated with the operant conditioning, behavioral approach.

School Safety

As schools enter the new school year, given the events that transpired last spring, school safety has obviously emerged as a significant concern. The following are documents I just wrote addressing these concerns. I created these documents at the request of the chairperson of the Nevada School Safety Task Force.

Embrace Civility in Schools

Embrace Civility

Embrace Civility is a student leadership program for students in grades 4 through early high school that teaches the values and skills to foster positive relations that focuses on positive social norms and effective skills. 

  • Reach Out. Be kind to those who are treated badly or left out and help resolve conflict.
  • Say “Stop.” Help those who are hurtful stop, accept personal responsibility, and remedy the harm.
  • Report Concerns. Report serious concerns to an adult who can help.
  • Stop, Own it, and Fix It. Avoid being hurtful and if you were, stop yourself, accept responsibility, and remedy the harm.
  • Be Positively Powerful. Respond effectively if someone is hurtful and become positively powerful.

This is a one-page brochure about the student leadership program and book.

Engage Students to Embrace Civility

Engage Students to Embrace Civility resources provide insight for educators that address:

  • Why current bullying prevention approaches are not effective and research-based strategies to achieve a more positive school climate that fosters positive relations.
  • Strategies grounded in trauma informed care, positive social norms, and social-emotional learning to empower students to foster positive relations.
  • Strategies to empower school staff to effectively respond when they witness hurtful incidents or hurtful incidents are reported.
  • Strategies to effectively investigate and intervene in the more serious or chronic situations.

Engage Students to Embrace Civility, is now available on Amazon!

Two new videos for learning and professional development are also available online!

This is a one-page brochure about the book and the student leadership program.

Support For Parents

Positive Parenting

This page provides a guide for parents and resources to support positive parenting, especially in this age of anxiety.

Support and Empower Your Bullied Child: A Guide for Parents

Support and Empower Your Bullied Child: A Guide for Parents provides a powerfully positive strategy parents can use to ensure that schools effectively address the concerns of bullying of their child or teen. 

Support and Empower Your Bullied Child: A Guide for Parents provides parents with insight into legal protections for students who are being bullied and guidance on how to effectively document what is happening to ensure appropriate attention by the principal. Extensive research-based guidance is provided on strategies to empower children and teens who are being bullied to assist them in becoming more self-confident, resilient, and respond effectively if someone is hurtful.

This book is available in paperback and Kindle format on Amazon.

Bullying Resolution Services

Bullying Resolution Services is new service for parents in Oregon.

Too often, when students or parents report bullying to the school, the situation remains unresolved. Bullying Resolution Services will assist parents in requesting an Independent Educational Evaluation in a situation where a student with disabilities is being bullied or pursuing an formal complaint to address bullying or harassment situations through the district and to the Oregon Department of Education, if necessary.

Bullying Resolution Services will encourage a positive resolution that will support all involved students and any involved staff.

Bullying Resolution Services can also provide services to schools and districts by supporting an investigation or mediation to assist in resolving these situations.

Coaching for Children and Teens

Nancy can provide coaching services to children and teens who are being bullied.

Resources

Articles

Documents

Cyber Savvy

About

Nancy Willard, M.S., J.D., is the Director of Embrace Civility in the Digital Age. Nancy’s approach is grounded in youth empowerment and restorative practices. 

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