Certification Element: Student Engagement
Establishing a safe school environment requires students to take an active role to change their own circumstances. Supporting student leadership and student-led initiatives is crucial to build student buy-in and to changing the norms that may drive behaviors like bullying. These student-led initiatives can include:
· Anti-bullying clubs that aim to provide a welcoming environment for all students
· Committees of students who work to improve key aspects of school climate
o Students might, for example, create a compact with other students that specifies both unacceptable and positive behaviors. Or they might develop a plan to prevent cyberbullying or assure safety on school buses or in hallways
· Enabling older students to mentor younger students
· Creating awareness campaigns about bullying and other issues
Student engagement can also be promoted by helping students understand how bullying and other safe schools issues violate their human rights to an education and to freedom from discrimination and persecution. Using curricula such as the Speak Truth To Power program, a free Common-Core aligned series of lesson plans from the RFK Center, can help encourage youth to become defenders for their school and the world. This lesson on anti-bullying advocate Jamie Nabozny may be particularly useful for schools looking to engage youth around the issue of bullying.