Bennett Elementary’s psychologist Sarah Slatt is an advocate for prevention. More specifically, the prevention of bullying in Bellevue schools.
New data released by the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program (www.clemson.edu/olweus/) claimed 17 percent of American students report being bullied two to three times a month or more within a school semester.
Slatt is convinced that prevention is the key to ending school bullying.
Partnering with Youth Eastside Services (YES), the five year veteran was the first Bellevue school counselor to leap at the chance for the local nonprofit to lead an in-school, anti-bullying workshop for students called PEACE Ambassadors.
As it currently stands, anti-bullying awareness and lesson plans are left up to each school in the Bellevue district to implement as they see fit.
Slatt wanted to take a proactive approach this year so she connected with YES.
“The students know me around here as the one who comes into the classroom every year to talk about bullying,” she explained. “I was looking for a new program that would kind of spice things up and get the kids interested and involved in learning about the importance of anti-bullying. I was impressed with the overall structure of the PEACE program and the values it teaches to our students.”
Excited to have the local organization implement the new program at her school, she corresponded with YES Violence Prevention Counselor Danny Hanson to begin the two-part, peer educator workshop training at Bennett.
Twenty-nine students signed up to become PEACE peer educators, a role that not only encourages investment in their school, but also helps to build solid communication and positive life skills.
The new PEACE program is mirrored closely after the successful high school program run by YES called RESPECT.
“We have seen such positive results with REPECT at the high schools, we had the idea of introducing a similar program to younger students,” Hanson said. “The earlier we can inform, educate and install preventive measure in the case of bullying, the better.”
Hanson led two training sessions, helping students define bullying and address why it happens and how to stop it. Following the completion of the training sessions, the student ambassadors will then go into the classrooms of the younger grades and lead mini-workshops, sharing what they have learned.
“All statistics about anti-bullying prevention shows that peer educators have a much higher rate of getting through to their peers then adults do,” he added. “Ultimately we would like to see this program implemented in all Eastside schools because it helps students develop valuable leadership skills. The program teaches the students to feel empowered and gives them the knowledge of what to do to stand up against bullying.”
Each student will receive an official PEACE Ambassador card to carry around as a reminder of their training and commitment to speak out against bullying.
To learn more about the PEACE program or violence prevention services from YES, call Danny Hanson at 425-586-2830 or e-mail DanielH@YouthEastsideServices.org.