This fall, the nation’s toughest anti-bullying law went into effect in New Jersey, holding schools accountable and requiring them to establish procedures to stop or prevent instances of harassment, intimidation and bullying. Long before the law was enacted, The Y.A.L.E. School worked to prevent bullying by implementing evidence-based strategies.
In one of the school’s weekly faculty meetings, Y.A.L.E. School Northfield campus principal Alvin Doyle reminded staff, “There are no bystanders in bullying; we must monitor each other and hold ourselves, each other and our students accountable.” It is with this “no bystander” approach that Y.A.L.E. School staff members work together to teach students strategies for conflict resolution and how to identify and report instances of bullying.
Y.A.L.E. School staff use evidence-based strategies to engage students in social learning opportunities. Research shows that students must not only learn these strategies, they must also be given the opportunity to explore and practice these strategies in “real life” situations. Each of The Y.A.L.E. School’s eight campuses created social skills clubs designed around student interest, in which students work toward a common goal. These clubs are largely student-directed, with staff members monitoring and providing support and guidance where disagreements and conflicts may arise. It is within these real life “teachable moments” that students are able to test and use strategies learned during social skills classes.
The Y.A.L.E. School also uses Peer Mediation, a strategy in which conflict resolution steps are facilitated by an age peer, rather than an adult. Students have the opportunity to explore various forms of conflict and practice using the tools needed to solve them. Through Peer Mediation, students are encouraged to identify the problem, express their point of view, and actively listen to their peer’s point of view while they explore cooperative solutions. With the help of an adult mediator (such as Y.A.L.E. Northfield anti-bullying coordinator Noah McKay), students agree on an appropriate solution and a plan for implementing it. These and other strategies used at The Y.A.L.E. School help students develop and strengthen social skills, emotional competencies and cultivate social responsibility.
New Jersey’s new law requires schools to launch an investigation of every allegation of bullying within one day. At each of the Y.A.L.E. School campuses, an anti-bullying specialist works closely with teachers, counselors and students on a daily basis to prevent, identify and respond to bullying. When an allegation of bullying is made, the anti-bullying specialist leads the investigation and acts as the primary school official responsible for addressing the incident. Each month, our anti-bullying specialists confer to further strengthen policies to prevent, identify and respond to incidents of harassment, intimidation and bullying across all campuses.
For more information, please see the New Jersey Dept. of Education Harassment, Intimidation, and Bullying resource page.