Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying Prevention

Poem by LR Knost

RCW 28A.300.285 defines harassment, intimidation or bullying as any intentionally written message or image-including those that are electronically transmitted-verbal, or physical act, including but not limited to one shown to be motivated by race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, including gender expression or identity, mental or physical disability or other distinguishing characteristics, when an act:

  • Physically harms a student or damages the student's property.
  • Has the effect of substantially interfering with a student's education.
  • Is so severe, persistent or pervasive that it creates an intimidating or threatening educational environment.
  • Has the effect of substantially disrupting the orderly operation of the school.

What is bullying? Bullying is defined as "unwanted negative behavior, verbal, psychological or physical conducted by an individual or group against another person (or persons) and which is repeated over time."

While we acknowledge that bullying is an issue that impacts students, schools and communities across our nation - our focus will be on the positive - how do we continue to build on the positive and enhance the climate of our schools and community? We believe this "focus on the positive" is the best way to reduce bullying and create stronger connections between staff, students and the larger community.

South Whidbey School District Resources:

Nationally, statistics show that more than one out of every five students reports being bullied. South Whidbey School District stands together against bullying, united for kindness, acceptance and inclusion.

We use the Safe Schools reporting system which is linked here. These tips may be made anonymously. All staff, students, family or community members are encouraged to alert the district to any unsafe situations. These tips go straight to the District Office and are assigned to the appropriate administration to follow up. Each school handles each situation on an individual basis. Steps for positive behavior, intervention and support are taken. Each step involved is designed to resolve the behaviors. Please review the student handbooks for grades 7-12. In grades K-6, steps may include:

  • Problem solving with a staff member, expectations for behavior reviewed with the student
  • Student support through meetings with the counselor and principal to develop a plan for improved behavior. Parents are contacted to complete and educational program
  • Behavior plans are developed. Students are put on a check in/check out system, in school consequences are assigned and parent conferences are required.
  • Intensive behavior plans may be developed which remove students from problem areas for a length of time.

Bully Free Zone Report It! 4 Easy Ways to Safe Schools Bully Free Zone

Staff Education:

Safe Schools Online Education - Every year, all SWSD staff are required to complete online training for safety and inclusivity. These training include Bullying: Recognition & Response Refresher courses. For more information see http://scenariolearning.com/.

Staff Development - On Early Release Days and Staff Inservice Days, the SWSD Administration provides staff development training.  Staff were required to participate in a book discussion on Building Equity, Policies and Practices to Empower All Learners.
SWSD continues to provide staff development where teachers are provided with recommendations and tools for preventing HIB. A copy of the thirty page guide, Speak Up At School, was provided to all staff to assist with taking action at school. 

Building Equity: Policies and Practices to Empower All Learners Speak Up At School Angst the Movie Brainstorm

The October, 2017, program powerpoint on Equity is attached here.

Continued Professional Development Offerings are made available to the staff, students, parents and community.
More information can be found linked here. 

During the week of December 10-16, 2017, the South Whidbey School District sponsored the showing of ANGST, the Movie. The move was shown to the administration and staff in the weeks prior to the showing to Grades 7-12 at the SWHS. Additionally, community showings were available at the District Office every day at noon and before the School Board Meeting on Wednesday December, 13th. Finally, the Clyde Theatre sponsored a final community showing on Saturday, December 16th at 1pm. The showings at the Board Meeting and at the Clyde Theatre were followed by a discussion with Charlene Ray, MSW Lic SW.

In 2018, the South Whidbey School District began a community book study for staff, parents and community on Brainstorm, the Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain by Daniel Siegel, M.D. The community discussion is being led by Dr. Bess Windecker - Nelson and is open to all who work with teenagers.

Bringing Mindful Attention to South Whidbey School District: On Thursday afternoons, you can find over 40 South Whidbey School District staff taking the time to distress and increase their awareness with Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, a popular and effective way to relax and increase energy and vitality. The classes include stretching, breathing techniques, and creating ways to release tension and be more present to daily life.

In some of the elementary classrooms, students are also learning techniques to increase their body awareness, identify and regulate emotions and focus in the classroom. The emphasis is on loving attention and kindness. Research has shown that Mindfulness in the classroom improves focus and attention, increases the ability to regulate emotions, decreases anxiety and depression and improves the capacity for compassion and empathy.

All of this mindful attention will surely make the schools a calmer and more peaceful environment with teachers even more inspired to teach, and students more able to learn. Stay tuned for community mindfulness classes coming to South Whidbey Community Center.

National Speaker on social and emotional education, Brooks Gibbs, came to South Whidbey on April 25, 2018 to present to the students during school, the staff after school and then the community in the evening at the SWHS Auditorium.

Students Education and Action:

SWHS students from Mr. Greene's class made these awesome posters in support of SWSD Unity Day

Cyber Bullying Being Different isn't a bad thing Speak Up Stop Bullying Fight for our rights

Don't Sit Down, Stand Up Against Bullying Stand Up and Be Yourself Be Kind Always

South Whidbey School District put words into action for the students with SWSD Unity Day - October 27, 2017. Please watch the video of the unity event linked here. The District, with the help of the South Whidbey Schools Foundation, the Goosefoot, SWEPTA, SWPTA, the Go Blue Foundation, Savage printing, the community, parents, and vendors unified the students of South Whidbey with spirit shirts to wear all year. EVERY student received a spirit shirt. We rallied together in solidarity against bullying and for acceptance and inclusion of every student from each race, gender, sex, creed, religion, color, national origin, age, sexual orientation including gender expression or identity, the presence of any sensory, mental, or physical disability.

The Elementary level continues to  provide the K-6 students with multiple tools for safety training, social-emotional teaching and inclusion.  Taproot Theater presented a production on bullying to the students. The playground staff provided each student with the ground rules for safe outdoor play and how to resolve situations with communication and body control. The fire department presented a safety demonstration to the students for school and home prevention. There is an ongoing positive behavior support system and the teachers are encouraged to have ongoing education.

October is Bullying Prevention Month and I would like to share some resources with you. The first is a definition of bullying, which you can find at this link https://www.stopbullying.gov/what-is-bullying/definition/index.html I encourage you to read this definition so you can fully understand what bullying is since there are misconceptions about someone "bullying" versus a students who has a one time conflict with another student.

We work hard to stop behaviors when they happen or as soon as we are aware they are happening. We then work with both the aggressor and the victim to find out what's going on and how to prevent future incidents. The following is a resource for you to use with your student if they are the victim, bully, or bystander. https://www.stopbullying.gov/respond/support-kids-involved/index.html

We have a positive focus on student discipline so we can help students understand their actions, the consequences of their actions, and how to resolve the conflict so it doesn't happen again. Each of our students are unique and they come from a variety of backgrounds and experiences, so they don't have the same understanding of appropriate behaviors in the school setting and it's our job to teach them the appropriate behaviors when they are struggling. As a result of inappropriate behaviors we have natural consequences for students that range from problem solving, missed opportunities (recess or activities), being sent home and restorative practices (which means making it right with the person or persons you have wronged). If you feel your child is the victim of inappropriate or bullying type behaviors please contact our school counselor Katharine Pfeiffer at [email protected]  so we can follow up on the behaviors.


In the middle and high school grades, the health classes continue to discuss cyber safety and establishing positive relationships. The South Whidbey High School has adopted the Character Strong curriculum (more information linked here). â€‹Character Strong aims to help educate the Whole Child through curricula, training and staff development. Practical resources are used to teach critical social emotional skills, equip all educators to weave community-building into their classroom, and to implement an intentional process for school-wide character development. 

Each week during the month of October, we will be sending out e-mail blasts to share strategies, resources and updates on ways that we can all work together to continue to make caring and compassion the heart of who we are.

10 School Wide Strategies to Support a Positive School Climate

This research based list of 10 proven strategies overview includes information from the Center for the 4th and 5th Rs - Respect and Responsibility and their publication "Excellence and Ethics" - Editors Tom Lickona and Martha Seales

10 School wide Strategies

#1: Assessment. Schools can use two kinds of assessment tools to get baseline data and measure progress in creating a safe and respectful school: (1) a survey focused on bullying (Olweus offers one), and (2) a broader survey that assesses overall school culture (e.g., the Respect and Responsibility School Culture Survey, p. 8). 2. Staff vigilance and support. In a large survey by the Youth Voice Project, students in grades 5-12 said that when adults took their complaints about cruelty seriously, maintained effective supervision, gave them advice and support, and regularly checked in with them to make sure they were safe, things more often got better.

How South Whidbey High School Addresses this Strategy: Students in grades 6, 8, 10 and 12 complete the Island County Health Youth Survey annually (https://www.doh.wa.gov/DataandStatisticalReports/DataSystems/HealthyYouthSurvey) . The survey provides an opportunities for students to anonymously share input on bullying (among a range of other topics). During the SWSD All staff kick off in August of 2017, Superintendent Jo Moccia led all staff through survey results related to bullying. Principals followed up that presentation with discussions during initial staff meetings on ways that staff can continue to address bullying issues.


#2: Staff vigilance and support. In a large survey by the Youth Voice Project, students in grades 5-12 said that when adults took their complaints about cruelty seriously, maintained effective supervision, gave them advice and support, and regularly checked in with them to make sure they were safe, things more often got better Things got worse when adults said they should solve the problem themselves.

How South Whidbey High School Addresses this Strategy: All staff members engaged in training at the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year on Equity and Diversity. Staff engaged in group reading and presentations focused on ways that all adults can continue to support all students. Ongoing training will be held throughout the school year focusing on issues of culture, diversity and equity. On 10/11/17, all K-12 staff with participate in a training on social and emotional learning as well as impacts of trauma and student learning. South Whidbey High School has developed a team that participated in a Suicide Prevention Training at the University of Washington in early October, and will develop ongoing parent, student and staff development around this critical topic.


#3 A school touchstone. This is a set of "we" statements expressing the core values school members agree to live by, e.g.: We show respect and caring by our words and actions. We defend those who can't defend themselves. Whatever hurts my neighbor, hurts me. Involve staff, students, and parents in developing the touchstone. Talk with students about the touchstone every day.

How South Whidbey High School Addresses this Strategy: The South Whidbey School District School Board has placed a new emphasis on this important focus, through the addition of "cultural readiness" for our students who leave the South Whidbey School District. Our Mission states "In partnership with our community, we are deeply committed to provide our students with the best educational experience, preparing them to become capable, creative, caring, and responsible citizens." South Whidbey High School has a range of clubs and programs that support a sense of "we" and connection - including Key Club, Birds of Prey, Random Acts of Kindness Club and a range of other opportunities for all students to belong and experience a sense of connection.


#4. A school wide curriculum. A research supported character education curriculum can prevent cruelty and promote respect by teaching prosocial skills such as empathy, listening, and conflict resolution. Second Step, a K-9 curriculum, is one such program.

How SWHS Addresses this Strategy: While there is no district wide curriculum used, during the 2017-2018 school year, all district staff are being provided training throughout the school year to enhance their skills and introduce them to resources and materials that can be introduced into their curriculum. Materials and resource will focus on character education, service-learning, positive school climate initiatives and diversity and equity resources.


#5. Service learning. Studies show that meaningful opportunities for service not only improve school attendance and test scores, but also foster kindness and positive attitudes toward cultural diversity. Service with the greatest potential to produce such outcomes involves face-to-face helping relationships sustained over time.

How SWHS Addresses this Strategy: There are a wide range of opportunities across the school that provide opportunities for students to give back and develop meaningful connections with the larger community. One example is the Leadership Class at South Whidbey High School. Students in this class are working on teams and in collaboration with community partners are working on projects related to issues of social justice (working with the South Whidbey Homeless Coalition) Emergency Preparedness (in partnership with the Red Cross) Animal focused projects (in partnership with the Whidbey Animal Improvement Foundation - WAIF) and service to children (in partnership with the Family Resource Center.)


#6. Peer support. In most cases, bullying occurs with an audience of peer bystanders who either do nothing or encourage the bullying. Hence the need to develop what Jonathan Cohen and colleagues call "upstanders," students who intervene ("Hey, leave him alone"); In the Youth Voice Project survey (www.youthvoiceproject.com), victims of peer cruelty said that other students who became their allies-spending time with them, listening to them, giving them advice, helping them get away from the bullies and tell an adult-were actually a bigger help to them than peers who directly confronted the bullies. Bullying victims who get this kind of peer support, studies show, are less likely to become anxious and depressed.

How SWHS Addresses this Strategy: Students in the South Whidbey High School Leadership class are focusing on projects that enhance connection between upperclassmen and freshman. Plans are also underway for high school leadership and ASB students to make presentations to middle school and other younger students around the focus of peer support.


#7. Reporting options. Telling a trusted adult is one way to report peer cruelty, but students also need an anonymous hot line, drop boxes around the school, and annual anonymous surveys.

How SWHS Addresses this Strategy: The South Whidbey School District participates in the SafeSchools Alert program - a tip reporting service that allows students, staff and parents to submit safety concerns to our administration in four different ways - phone, text, e-mail or via the web. This system allows anyone to easily report tips on bully, harassment, drugs or any safety issue they are concerned about. You can access the SafeSchools Alert links on the SWSD website here: https://www.sw.wednet.edu/Page/2033


#8. Participatory student government. Psychologist Kurt Lewin found that victimization and scapegoating were highest in an autocratic group atmosphere and lowest in a democratic group atmosphere. Schools can create a democratic peer culture by maximizing opportunities for student voice-e.g., by designing a student government that gets the whole student body involved in solving real-life problems.

How SWHS Addresses this Strategy: SWHS has an active and dynamic student government, with grade level and school wide ASB groups. They coordinate and support SO many projects - from coordinating Homecoming activities to providing guidance on school program and initiatives with administration and teachers.


#9. Involve students in welcoming new kids. Schools across the country are finding ways to create a more welcoming environment for new students and incoming freshman. At one school "Every senior was given the names of 3 freshmen and asked to write them letters with tips on how to succeed at the school. In a half-day ceremony before the first school day, seniors served the freshmen breakfast in the school hall, the football team and cheerleaders did funny routines, and freshmen were called up individually to receive their welcoming letters on a personalized foam board. This new tradition has redefined who we are."

How SWHS Addresses this Strategy: SWHS student leaders have partnered with administration over the years to meet with 8th graders in the spring to help prepare them for their 9th grade year at the high school. With the 7th and 8th grade now on the SWHS campus, a range of plans are underway for high school student leaders to create new traditions and projects to help welcome both new students and incoming middle school students.


#10. Respect diversity. A school must be safe for all, regardless of race, religion, ethnic background, sexual orientation or other differences. A school can do this by teaching the consistent message of: We uphold standards of behavior which honor the dignity and worth of all individuals regardless of gender, ethnicity, race, age, physical or mental abilities, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic background.

How SWSD Addresses this Strategy: As outlined above, adding "cultural competency" to our student outcomes is an important focus at SWHS and across the South Whidbey School District. We as a staff will continue to engage in professional development and focus on making sure that every student within our school feels safe and supported.

Community Involvement:

Spark Initiative Coalition, a group of parents, staff, students and community members that want to make a change.  The initial meeting presentation slides are linked here. If you have any further questions, please contact Amanda Fisher at [email protected] or 360-221-6808 ext 2224 or Kristy Macarro at [email protected] or 360-221-6808 ext 2245.

Gail Lavassar, Director of the Family Resource Center and Readiness to Learn Foundation, is assisting with creating a South Whidbey Community Center (SWCC) in the old Langley Middle School building. The vision of the SWCC is to create a connected community that honors diversity, respects history, and offers learning activities responsive to local evolving needs and talents. She is working to bring the Boys and Girls Club and Big Brother and Big Sisters to South Whidbey to help engage youth and bolster confidence and role modeling.

South Whidbey Forefront suicide prevention team, made up of admin, teachers and parents provided a training for teachers in December in the LEARN curriculum which is for recognizing signs and symptoms of suicide. Next is the parent training (information linked here). In year two of the program, students will be added to the team and the students will train other students. And then in year three we will add some more social emotional curriculum and continue the training. The team is also in the process of updating the suicide response plans which outline how the school responds to suicide in terms of prevention, intervention, reentry and postvention. Here is the website- http://www.intheforefront.org/programs/forefront-in-the-schools/.

Watch DOGS - Calling all Dads Of Great Students (including but not limited to Dads, Stepdads, Uncles, Grandfathers etc), be a volunteer at the South Whidbey Elementary school. More information is linked here. Sign up at the SWES front office by completing the linked registration form and a volunteer packet. WATCH D.O.G.S. is one of the nation's largest and most respected school-based, family, and community engagement, organizations in the country. In 1998, the very first WATCH D.O.G.S. program launched at Gene George Elementary in Springdale, AR. Today, more than 6,450 schools across the country have launched a WATCH D.O.G.S. program of their own. Each school year hundreds of thousands of fathers and father-figures make a positive impact on millions of children by volunteering millions of hours in their local schools through this amazing one-of-a-kind program.

South Whidbey School District Policies:

The South Whidbey School District adopted Policy 3207 PROHIBITION OF HARASSMENT, INTIMIDATION AND BULLYING on July 27, 2011. The policy was updated on March 22, 2017.

Inclusivity - Harassment of Students at School Prohibited (Policies 3207, 3210, 3211, 3220, 5010)

The district is committed to a safe and civil education environment for all students, employees, parent/legal guardians, volunteers and patrons that is free from harassment, intimidation or bullying. "Harassment, intimidation or bullying" means any intentionally written message or image-including those that are electronically transmitted-verbal, or physical act, including but not limited to one shown to be motivated by race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation including gender expression or identity, mental or physical disability or other distinguishing characteristics, when an act : Physically harms a student or damages the student's property. Has the effect of substantially interfering with a student's education. Is so severe, persistent or pervasive that it creates an intimidating or threatening educational environment. Has the effect of substantially disrupting the orderly operation of the school. The district is committed to digital citizenship by promoting responsible, ethical use of technology. Our students are taught to be safe and kind online and to be aware of their digital footprint. It is the policy of the South Whidbey School District to encourage students and staff to learn and work in schools that are free from violence, intimidation, threats, harassment and fear. Because of wise, consistent enforcement of the rules and ethical decision-making by both youth and adults, the school environment is attractive to students and creates the most favorable conditions in which to learn. Complaints are handled individually at each school according to the school's policy. Such complaints must be appropriately investigated and consistently handled with due process requirements. Informal reports may be made to any staff member. The policies promote mutual respect, civility and orderly conduct among district employees, parents, students, and the public. If you or someone you know if suffering from harassment, intimidation or bullying of any form, please make a report in person, online or by phone.

Our Commitment to Non-Discrimination

The South Whidbey School District #206 does not discriminate on the basis of sex, race, creed, religion, color, national origin, age, marital status, honorably discharged veteran or military status, sexual orientation including gender expression or identity, the presence of any sensory, mental, or physical disability, or the use of a trained dog guide or service animal by a person with a disability in its programs and activities and provides equal access to the Boy Scouts and other designated youth groups.

The following employees have been designated to handle questions and complaints of alleged discrimination: Affirmative Action/Title IX/ RCW 28A.640 /RCW 28A.642 compliance officer, Dan Poolman, [email protected], or Section 504/ADA coordinator, Dr. Jeff Fankhauser, [email protected], 5520 Maxwelton Road, Langley, WA 98260, 360-221-6100, fax 360-221-3835

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