While there has been some progress on anti-bullying efforts, millions of students every year encounter bullying that could affect their performance in school, cause mental anguish, and more. School administrators and teachers must take a proactive step to mitigate bullying in their schools and ensure students have a safe place to learn.
When Dr. Jerry Jellig was appointed to lead Shaw Campus for KIPP DC, Will Academy, he had a few tough issues at hand. First and foremost, the academic scores weren’t good, so students were not getting the education they needed to succeed at the next level. Additionally, student behaviors weren’t good, and disciplinary actions were up in the charter school in Washington D.C..
However, what was probably most problematic was the fact that Dr. Gerard Jellig inherited a school with the highest number of bullying investigations and incidents. Dr. Gerard Jellig had a problem on his hand, and he needed to act quick. His ultimate goal was to get each and every one of his students who wanted to go to college to go. But that was the ultimate goal. Before that, he had to address the bullying issue and make his school safe again.
The first thing he and his team did was look at the prior year and determine whether there were any identifiable trends. They noticed that the same peer relationships that were poor would reappear in many different settings, creating the dangerous power imbalance that often results in bullying. In addition to that, they identified trigger children, catalyst children, and vulnerable children so they could provide individual help and support.
For example, they appointed catalyst children into their own branch of student government, so they could make decisions and lead. Vulnerable children, on the other hand, were assigned a strong peer and faculty member who would check in on their daily progress. Finally, Dr. Jerry Jellig staffed spaces of high frequency and known power imbalance differently and trained facutly members on peer relationships and consultations.
The end result was a 60% reduction in bullying claims and 75% reduction in bullying incidents. The story of Dr. Jellig and hte Shaw Campus for KIPP DC, Will Academy is not new or unique and could be done anywhere. Faculty members and administrators need to develop their own strategy to mitigate bullying and ensure students have a safe place to learn.