Embrace Civility

Reduce student hurtful behavior and increase helpful behavior by reinforcing positive social norms that the majority of students do not admire those who are hurtful and admire those who are kind and compassionate and step in to help.

Increase the resilience of students involved in hurtful incidents using Trauma Informed Care practices.

Increase the ability of students to independently resolve hurtful incidents when using social media or face-to-face by ensuring they gain the skills to effectively respond as a witness, the one targeted, or the one being  hurtful.

Program Overview

The objective of Embrace Civility is to empower students to embrace kindness, inclusion, and civility using a positive norms and student leadership approach that fosters positive behavior and increases student skills as a witness, the one being hurtful, or the one treated badly.

Embrace Civility, will help students gain critical important personal relationship skills in five key areas:

  • 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 program has been developed for students in grades 4 through high school. For students in grades 4 through 8, more of a direct instruction approach is recommended. For students in high school a more informal messaging approach is recommended. Ideally, high school student leadership teams will be active in promoting the program at the lower school levels.

Program Resources

The program resources include:

  • Student Guide. A 6 page reproducible document. This is provided for your review. This contains the basic lessons. It is not necessary to use this specific document for instruction. The instructional messages can also be delivered on posters or slides.
  • Implementation Guide. Provides guidance on the establishment of student leadership team and activities, research-based insight on fostering positive relations,  along with instructional objectives and recommended approach
    • The Implementation Guide also contains an instruction document entitled Think Things Through, a brief Character Strengths Survey, and the Embrace Civility Student Survey.
  • Videos. Six short videos provide the insight into the underlying research insight and strategies to implement the insight from research into the activities. The topics include the following. These are not provided. 
    • Engage Students to Embrace Civility – an Introduction
    • How to implement the Embrace Civility student program.
    • The overall positive social norms approach, self-regulation, and Think Things Through approach incorporated into Embrace Civility.
    • Insight and strategies to promote positive peer intervention.
    • Insight into hurtful behavior and strategies to encourage students to avoid impulsive retaliation and to stop, own it, and fix it if someone has been hurtful.
    • Insight and strategies to encourage students to become positively empowered and respond effectively if someone is hurtful.
  • Slideshows for Students. These slideshow will incorporate local social norms data from the survey.
    • A basic slideshow.
    • A demonstration slideshow that illustrates how the survey data is set forth in the slideshow for the Introduction Assembly
    • A demonstration slideshow that illustrates how the survey data is set forth in the slideshow for lessons.
  • Templates to create posters. These posters can incorporate the school colors and name.
  • Slideshow and handout for staff that provides guidance on effective strategies to intervene in Minor Hurtful Incidents. Guidance for principals on how to investigate and intervene in the more Serious or Chronic Hurtful Situations is provided in Engage Students to Embrace Civility.

Program Approach

The objective in the creation of Embrace Civility is to provide the essential insight into  the underlying research and basic lessons, but to encourage adaptation and creativity in the delivery. Rather than promoting “fidelity” to one set approach, schools are encouraged to engage in a flexible implementation of the program–and engage in ongoing evaluation through the use of the Embrace Civility Student Survey.

It is acknowledged that this is different than the traditional approach that expects fidelity to a very specific approach. To ensure a likelihood of success, the strategy taken in Embrace Civility is the use of an annual survey. This shifts the thinking to more of a continuous improvement model.

The lessons in Embrace Civility can be aged up or down. Schools are especially encouraged to implement an “older students supporting younger students” implementation approach.

  • Older high school students can take on leadership roles and talk with younger high school students.
  • Older and younger high school students can return to their middle schools and talk with the students there.
  • Older middle school students can take on leadership roles and talk with younger middle school students.
  • Middle school students can return to their elementary schools and talk with the fourth and fifth grade students.
  • Fourth and fifth grade students can be leaders for kindness in their schools.

Under ESSA, Embrace Civility and the Engage Students to Embrace Civility approach should be considered to be an evidence-based practice under the category of “Demonstrates a Rationale.

Demonstrates a Rationale. To demonstrate a rationale, the intervention should include:  1) A well-specified logic model that is informed by research or an evaluation that suggests how the intervention is likely to improve relevant outcomes; and 2) An effort to study the effects of the intervention, ideally producing promising evidence or higher, that will happen as part of the intervention or is underway elsewhere …, to inform stakeholders about the success of that intervention.

The Embrace Civility lessons directly address the individual Knowledge and Student Skills expectations in the Center for Disease Control’s HECAT for Violence Prevention for grades 3-5, 6-8, 9-12.

Pilot Implementation

At this point in time, I am interested in seeking to enter into an arrangement for the pilot implementation of this program.

Embrace Civility Student Survey

The development of this program was informed by a survey of students conducted in 2015. This was a national survey of 1,500+ secondary students using a prior extended version of the Embrace Civility Student Survey. A report of the results of this survey is available.