It’s no secret that we take Tiger Pride seriously, and part of that is being clear on our expectations for behavior. We focus on teaching self-regulation, personal safety, and support through collaboration. In every school, we use PBIS (Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support). PBIS is a framework of school discipline which focuses on proactive strategies and school-wide systems of support. Bullying prevention takes cooperation from all of us: staff, students, and families. Talk to your students about bullying and let them know it’s okay to speak up if they see a problem.
Have a Clear Definition of Bullying
We have a clear definition of bullying in our school board policy 514:
“Bullying” means intimidating, threatening, abusive, or harming conduct that is
objectively offensive and:
- an actual or perceived imbalance of power exists between the student engaging in the prohibited conduct and the target of the prohibited conduct, and the conduct is repeated or forms a pattern; or
- materially and substantially interferes with a student’s educational opportunities or performance or ability to participate in school functions or activities or receive school benefits, services, or privileges. The term, “bullying,” specifically includes cyberbullying as defined in this policy.
- A “threat” is a statement of an intention to inflict pain, injury, damage, or other hostile action on someone in retribution for something done or not done.
We investigate offensive behavior of all kinds, and if the behavior meets the definition, we follow our policies and procedures.
Set Clear Expectations
Every year, our administration analyzes student behavior data and adjusts expectations of proper and civil behavior in our schools. These expectations are written in each school’s student handbooks. These handbooks are then approved by the school board. One example of alterations of expectations might be the incorporation of cyber bullying.
We use Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support (PBIS)
PBIS is a framework of school discipline. Students are taught to create a positive school environment. In other words, we focus on the behaviors we want to see, instead of punishment. The definition of discipline is the practice of teaching people rules or a code of behavior. By modeling and teaching respect, students learn to respect others. And when students fall below the line and display inappropriate behaviors, we reflect on our Habits of a Tiger: self-management and being an empathic citizen— socially aware, kind, respectful, compassionate; helpful; considerate of multiple perspectives; pluralistic; unthreatened by differences, and embracing challenges of being human.
Educate the Staff
Every year, we have learning sessions with all of the adults in our district, with the opportunity to learn about bullying prevention. We've held PBIS learning sessions, staff workshops on Social Emotional Learning, and workshops on harassment and bullying prevention. This year's focus is on student mental health and resilience.
Reward Positive Behaviors
It is no secret that our schools and staff take our Tiger Pride seriously. At each level, from our Early Childhood, through our High School, the adults are looking for behaviors aligned with our expectations, and we reward the behavior. In order to learn positive behaviors, we use evidence-based curriculum to teach appropriate behaviors.
Have Open Communication
It is very important for everyone to work together to prevent bullying in schools, and so students and staff are encouraged to report any incidents of concern. On the parent portal, there is a button available to report any offensive behavior. This is monitored by each school’s administration.
Bullying prevention takes the cooperation of all of the adults in students’ lives. We ask families to help us by:
- Staying connected with your child to listen for any concerns.
- Explain to your child what bullying is, by teaching them the definition.
- Tell your child to report anything that he or she may experience or witness.
- Teach your child to be empathetic. Being kind is the root of all good!
- Set a good example as your child’s first role model.
- Look for any warning signs that your child may be the victim of bullying.
- Unexplainable injuries.
- Lost or destroyed clothing, books, electronics, or jewelry.
- Frequent headaches or stomach aches, feeling sick or faking illness.
- Changes in eating habits, like suddenly skipping meals or binge eating
- Difficulty sleeping or frequent nightmares.
We have good statistics here in Princeton. Our schools have been named Exemplary by PBIS many times. Our whole district is engaged in this program, and getting the awards reinforce our fidelity of the program.
Every three years, for the past 30 years, our students have participated in the Minnesota Student Survey. One section of the questions include safety of students at school, related to bullying. Thankfully, we had better statistics than the state average.
All of us at Princeton Public Schools want our children to feel safe, with a sense of belonging when they are at school. We want them to be able to concentrate on getting the best possible education we can provide. And we look to our core value of respect to guide our actions.
Listening to, accepting, and valuing each individual in the school district and community. We value each student, and please know we will do our very best in bullying prevention--not only during Bullying Prevention month, but all of the time.
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