October is Bullying Prevention Month, and San Bernardino City Unified School District (SBCUSD) credits its innovative undercover anti-bullying teams with reducing student-on-student harassment.
The District’s Positive Youth Development Department, in collaboration with university professors, designed an effective, holistic system to respond to incidents of bullying centered around empowering students to encourage kindness and respect.
Known as the Bullying Intervention Team, the system involves a reporting process, tracking system, and a team of experts that assist school sites in conducting a Restorative Justice Practice called the Undercover Anti-Bullying Team (UABT) from start to finish. In place at more than half of the 72 SBCUSD schools, the UABTs have experienced success rates not seen with other bullying-intervention efforts.
“The traditional responses to school bullying, including suspensions, bullying contracts, or school policing, can make matters worse for the student being bullied,” said Marlene Bicondova, a former middle school principal who now leads the District’s Positive Youth Development Department. “What is very unique about this approach in particular is that influential students are empowered to do the work that has been deemed almost impossible for adults. Once the bullying issue is completely resolved, the team celebrates the success.”
Since the beginning of the UABT, 48 cases across the District have been resolved through this approach, while many more have been concluded at schools where counselors are trained to use the UABT intervention. Cal State San Bernardino professor Dr. John Winslade and Michael Williams, authors of the book Safe and Peaceful Schools, have been the catalysts in this groundbreaking work.
Although Bicondova and her team of experts agree that no single strategy is 100 percent effective, not one of the UABT efforts have failed to date. In fact, the Bullying Intervention Team has a bank of video testimonials from principals, parents, teachers, counselors, and students to prove that this is a highly effective and positive approach to eliminate bullying and restore relationships.
Join SBCUSD and the Pacer’s National Bullying Prevention Center in celebrating Unity Day on Wednesday, October 23 by wearing orange. Unity Day is about standing together against bullying and uniting for kindness, acceptance, and inclusion. Learn more at https://www.pacer.org/bullying/nbpm/unity-day.asp