Erin’s Law Implementation
Questions Parents May Have About Erin’s Law
Why is sexual abuse prevention being addressed in District 102? Erin’s Law (in Illinois, Public Act 96-1524) requires that all public schools implement child-focused sexual abuse prevention education to all students every year. In District 102, we want to ensure a positive, safe learning environment for all students. Using our Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) approach, we intentionally foster positive relationships and create support for students experiencing difficulties. We explicitly teach students skills that will develop critical social-emotional competencies and prevent bullying and abuse.
What material will be covered? In order to teach children age-appropriate information about how to keep them safe from dangerous or abusive situations, District 102 will be using components from Second Step Child Protection Unit (Pre-K-6th) and Safer Smarter Teens (7th-8th). These materials are research-based and provide students with specific developmentally-appropriate education regarding personal safety, safe and unsafe touches, refusal skills, and how to communicate a problem with a trusted adult.
Lessons will teach several key concepts, including ways to keep safe, body and self awareness, safe versus unsafe touches, safe versus unsafe secrets, and how to say no and tell a trusted adult.
Lesson objectives will differ according to student age. In the Pre-K through Grade 4, private parts will be identified by what a swimsuit covers. In grades 5-8 anatomically correct terminology for private body parts will be used. Research shows that health education is more effective when accurate terms for private body parts are used.
Elementary lessons will be taught by the social worker who works in your child’s school. In some cases, we may bring a staff member from another building to help address scheduling or language needs. Each school social worker has received training from the Child Advocacy Center regarding Erin’s Law, preventing abuse by creating safe environments, responding to behavior and disclosures and the mandated reporting process.
At Park, advisory groups will partner together and will receive lessons from one of building’s Advisory Team members, made up of administrators, social workers and teachers.
Each student in our school community will participate in age-appropriate lessons. We hope all parents will partner with us to educate our children.
Each school and grade level will have a presentation implemented during spring. Prior to the presentation, parents will receive additional information.
The presentations will be conducted within each school, with combined classes of similar grade-levels, when appropriate. These may be in a classroom, in the multi-purpose room, or in the school LRC.
Whom should I contact if I have additional questions or concerns?
You may contact your school social worker if you have questions about this program. For more information regarding how to talk to your child about sexual abuse, see http://www.earlyopenoften.org
Social and Emotional Learning Curriculum in District 102
Caring School Community
Research shows that building a safe and caring school community for students is instrumental to their academic, social, and ethical development. Staff members intentionally work to create a caring community of learners where students learn to take responsibility for their own learning and behavior, and where they become committed to values such as fairness, helpfulness, caring, and respect. in this culture, students learn to feel safe to take the risks and explore new ideas necessary for academic achievement.
*Respectful, supportive relationships among students, teachers and families.
*Frequent opportunities to help and collaborate with others.
*Frequent opportunities for autonomy and influence.
*Emphasis on common purpose and ideals.
*Class Meetings provide teachers and students with a forum to get to know one another, discuss issues, identify and solve problems, and make decisions that affect the classroom climate. One specific type of meeting in the Morning Meeting, in which students intentionally greet each other, share and practice conversation, participate in an activity and read a message together.
*Buddy Activities build caring relationships across the school by pairing older and younger students together for joint academic and social activities. Younger students benefit by developing a sense of belonging and security, while older students benefit by giving them the opportunity to be a positive role model and show genuine concern for younger students.
*Homeside Activities give simple, inclusive opportunities for students to share their school lives with their parents at home. All activities build on the value for parents and children of talking and listening to each other -- in their home language. It's important for students to know that the adult guiding them at home are valued by the adults guiding them at school.
*Schoolwide Community Building Activities link students, parents, teachers and other adults in the school in non-competitive activities. These focus on fostering new school traditions, promoting participation and inclusion and teaching cooperation and responsibility. The emphasis is these activities is on building relationships and fostering a sense of community.
Social-emotional skills are important to healthy child development and contribute to success in school and life. Staff members intentionally teach, model and give students opportunities to practice developmentally appropriate social-emotional skills using storytelling and role-playing.
*Empathy Training focuses on learning to identify our own and others' feelings as well as how to show care and concern for others.
*Impulse Control & Problem Solving teaches students to identify when they are experiencing strong emotions, calm down and problem-solve.
*Emotion Management helps students to manage strong emotions with an emphasis on anger management at first through fifth grades. Lessons do not teach that anger is bad, but that how one acts when angry is critical.
Advisory teachers use lessons from Teaching Tolerance to explore identity and diversity, recognize injustice, and learn to take action. These robust lessons promote social justice, challenge bias, and reinforce critical social emotional skills.
What is Bullying?
Examples of bullying include:
- Hurting someone physically by hitting, tripping, pushing, and so on.
- Stealing or damaging another persons’ things.
- Ganging up on someone.
- Teasing someone in a hurtful way.
- Using put-downs, such as insulting someone’s race or making fun of someone for being a male or a female.
- Touching or showing private body parts.
- Spreading rumors about someone.
- Leaving someone out on purpose or trying to get other students not to interact with someone.
Staff at our school attempt to prevent bullying and help students feel safe at school by:
- Intentionally creating a caring community of learners.
- Explicitly teaching pro-social skills.
- Closely supervising students in all areas of the school.
- Watching for signs of bullying and stopping it when it happens.
- Teaching bullying prevention strategies.
- Responding quickly and sensitively to bullying reports.
- Taking seriously families’ concerns about bullying.
- Looking into all reported bullying incidents.
- Assigning consequences for bullying based on the school handbook.
- Providing immediate consequences for retaliation against students who report bullying.
It is our goal that students at our school do the following things to prevent bullying:
- Treat each other respectfully.
- Refuse to bully others.
- Refuse to let others be bullied.
- Refuse to watch, laugh, or join in when someone is being bullied.
- Try to include everyone, especially those who are often left out.
- Report bullying to an adult.
What Can a Parent Do in Response to Bullying?
Sometimes, as a parent it can be difficult to determine whether your child has been bullied or not. If you suspect that your child has been a victim of bullying, ask yourself:
- Is there an imbalance of power?
- Did my child suffer from intentional harmdoing?
- Has this mistreatment happened repeatedly?
If you can answer yes to each question, your child may be a victim of bullying. (Olweus ,1994)
- Listen to your child’s concerns.
- Reassure your child that this is not his/her fault.
- Brainstorm solutions.
- Report the situation to the school.
- Minimize the bully’s behavior.
- Rush in to solve the problem.
- Tell your child to avoid the bully.
- Tell your child to fight back.
- Confront the bully or the bully’s parents.
If you answered no to any of the questions, your child may need a different type of support from you. Perhaps your child needs help navigating through a conflict. Perhaps your child needs to role-play asking to join in on a game or activity. Perhaps your child needs to practice using an “I” statement such as “I don’t like it when you call me that.” to tell a classmate not to tease him/her.
What Can the School Do to Help Staff Recognize Bullying?
The District #102 staff members work with Lynn Lawrence, the district Social Emotional Learning Coordinator, in on-going staff development. All elementary teachers use the Caring School Community program to intentionally create a caring community of learners as well as Second Step, a violence prevention program, to explicitly teach social-emotional skills as a part of their class meetings. Park staff members use advisory time to intentionally build relationships with and among students, to bolster students’ social-emotional competencies and to teach strategies for avoiding and responding to bullying. Together we can help your child feel safe and welcome at school.
If you have any questions regarding bullying prevention or our social-emotional learning approach, please contact Lynn Lawrence, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Response to Bullying in District 102District #102 staff members work with Lynn Lawrence, the district's Social Emotional Learning Coordinator, in on-going staff development. All elementary teachers use the Caring School Community program to intentionally create a caring community of learners as well as Second Step, a violence prevention program, to explicitly teach social-emotional skills as a part of their class meetings. Park staff members use advisory time to intentionally build relationships with and among students, to bolster students' social-emotional competencies and to teach strategies for avoiding and responding to bullying.
By and large, our proactive efforts have been very successful and most students report that they feel safe at school. However, we recognize that there are times that bullying occurs.
Together we can help your child feel safe and welcome at school. If you have any questions regarding bullying prevention or our Social-Emotional Learning approach, please contact Lynn Lawrence.
Raising Children Who Resist Bullying
So how does one raise a child to be a resister? How does one raise a child to do the right thing, because it is the right thing to do? Barbara Coloroso’s first piece of advice for parents and educators is to avoid using rewards. Children are hardwired to be intrinsically motivated and rewarding them “bankrupts their spirit.” Children do not need prizes and rewards to succeed. These types of bribes interfere with raising ethical kids.
Brain research initially conducted in Zurich and later confirmed at Stanford, indicates that rewarding children has an impact on their neuropathways and rather than impacting the frontal portion of the brain, where deep caring occurs, it impacts the back of the brain, also called the “wild side,” the area where addiction is reinforced, causing praise-dependent children.
Rather than looking for a quick fix, as adults we need to consider the long-term results of our interactions with children. If we want our children to act with integrity, and do good because it is good to do, we need to give them opportunities to experience the happiness of doing good for the sake of doing good not to get a prize or sticker.
This aligns with the long-held Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) philosophy of District 102. Rather than seeking ways to externally motivate students using stickers and other prizes, staff members intentionally honor students’ internal motivation by meeting students’ needs for autonomy, belonging and competence. Teachers explicitly articulate the relevance of daily lessons and differentiate activities so that all students are engaged in challenging work at their own level.
Together, we can raise a new generation that cares deeply, shares generously and helps the less fortunate.
For more information about
- Raising ethical children: see www.kidsareworthit.com
- SEL: contact SEL Coordinator, Lynn Lawrence, at email@example.com.
Bullying and The MediaOver and again when parents and educators are asked to articulate their hopes and dreams for their children, certain ideals rise to the surface. Typically when we as adults consider what type of people we hope our children will grow to be, we mention values such as caring, responsible, and respectful.
However, all too often the attitudes and behaviors that are modeled and revered in many of the advertisements, songs, video games, websites, movies and TV shows that some children interact with are in direct opposition to the ideals we hope they will aspire to.
Children regularly exposed to media violence are apt to:
- Become desensitized to real-life violence.
- Imitate the violence they see and hear.
- Become easily intimidated and depressed.
- Become fearful and distrustful of others.
(B. Coloroso – Just Because It’s Not Wrong Doesn’t Make It Right)
In an effort to continue to promote pro-social skills and decrease bullying behaviors at school, we use the Second Step program to intentionally teach the competencies outlined in the Illinois Social and Emotional Learning Standards. Students need these skills in order to counteract the negative messages that can be found in media. Through our SEL approach, students learn and practice skills such as:
- Respecting others’ differences
- Active listening
- Anger management
- Conflict resolution
- Problem solving
At home you can support your child’s development of a healthy perspective toward violence by:
- Placing the TV, computer and DVD player in a public area of your home.
- Monitoring what your children listen to and watch.
- Playing an active role in selecting material for your young child.
- Encouraging your child to get involved in activities that promote creative, responsible, pro-social, and civil behaviors.
- Spending time doing things together that do not involve media.
(B. Coloroso – Just Because It’s Not Wrong Doesn’t Make It Right)
Together we can continue to create a school that is welcoming and safe for all children. For more information about
- SEL: contact SEL Coordinator, Lynn Lawrence, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CyberbullyingAdvances in technology can bring both joys and sorrows. The same wonderful electronic devices that can keep families connected across the country can also, unfortunately, be used to intimidate and bully. Cyberbullying is defined as “willful and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices.” (Hinduja and Patchin) Similar to other forms of bullying, there is an imbalance of power, it is repetitive in nature and includes an intent to harm.
Unfortunately, cases of cyberbullying continue to spread throughout the nation, sometimes with unfortunate results. In addition to the multiple strategies that District 102 staff members use to intentionally create a caring community of learners and to explicitly teach empathy and friendship skills as outlined in the Illinois Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Standards, teachers specifically teach students how to recognize and respond to various forms of bullying, including cyberbullying.
District 102 has made intentional efforts to protect your child from this threat through the implementation of a new series of Internet Safety lessons geared for students third grade and up. In these lessons, students are taught tips and strategies for protecting themselves, as well as how to make good choices about how they treat others when communicating through technology.
Students are encouraged to tell a trusted adult, such as a parent or teacher, if they have experienced or know about someone else experiencing cyberbullying. Similar to other types of bullying, these situations are handled on a case-by-case basis, with all efforts made toward ensuring students’ physical and emotional safety.
As a parent, you can help your child by:
- Keeping the computer in a public place in your home.
- Monitoring your child’s computer and cell phone.
- Teaching your child appropriate social skills for cell phone and online usage.
- Setting age-appropriate boundaries for use of technology.
- Telling to your child not to respond to offensive/dangerous communication.
- Getting to know your child’s online friends.
If you believe that your child is being cyberbullied:
- Convey unconditional support.
- Learn your child’s perspective.
- Avoid banning use of electronic devices.
- Work with your child to determine a course of action.
- Collect and preserve electronic evidence.
- Report the situation to your child’s school.
- Contact the police if physical threats are involved.
Sending a non-emotional, assertive message telling the child who is bullying to stop.
Ignoring the cyberbullying by changing sites, email addresses, etc.
Filing a complaint with the internet service provider.
Contacting the parents of the child who is bullying.
For more information about Cyberbullying, see www.wiredsafety.org
Bullying Prevention and SELAccording to a recent brief released by the National Center for Mental Health Promotion and Youth Violence Prevention (Ragozzino and Utne O’Brien, 2009), Social and Emotional Learning can be a powerful component of bullying prevention. Schools such as ours, who simultaneously foster a caring climate of respect while explicitly teaching core social and emotional skills, create a strong foundation for preventing and responding to bullying.
In District 102, we continually model and foster mutual respect for all individuals through Buddy Activities, Class Meetings and Second Step lessons. We also specifically teach the following skills, all necessary to deal with bullying:
- Self-Awareness and Self-Management skills allow students to recognize and handle their emotions in order to calmly and assertively respond to conflict and bullying.
- Social Awareness allows students to appreciate differences and to be empathic with others, even those who are not in their circle of friends.
- Relationship Skills help students to initiate and sustain friendships, a key to preventing them from becoming targets of bullying.
- Responsible Decision-Making enables students to think through and resolve problems effectively and ethically.
Students who have strong social-emotional competencies are less likely to bully, to be bullied, or to be passive bystanders.