Seattle Girls’ School takes the issues of bullying, cyber-bullying, and relational aggression among young women very seriously. Not only do we reject the notion that adults might stand by and do nothing regarding situations like these, we are very proud of our on-going efforts and in many ways provide leadership – locally and nationally – in this arena. No school can claim that these issues are not present within its walls. It’s how you address and resolve situations as proactively as possible that really counts.
Our school has extensive documentation – some written by adults and some, such as our Constitution and Bill of Rights, written by students – that clearly and unequivocally address these issues. Here are a few highlights:
“SGS will not tolerate any form of physical or emotional harassment, including hazing, physical, or emotional abuse based on gender, race, color, national, or ethnic origin, religion, or sexual orientation.”
From our Statement of Community Expectations
Our Discipline Protocol clearly identifies harassment (including cyber-bullying) as a Level 4 offense that can lead to probation and expulsion if repeated.
Again, it is action – not words – that really counts when addressing these issues, and we have been very active in empowering both adults and students to take such action. We started the year with a strong commitment to interrupting any potential bullying with a clear message at our first community meeting. We provided parent education through our Parent-Guardian Information Series led by national presenters such as Dr. Joann Deak. We also empower staff members through extensive professional development that includes members of our own faculty recognized as national authorities in their own right. This past year, our Dean of Faculty and Technology Manager attended an international conference on preventing bullying and returned with a clear message – empower students! This approach so resonated with our school mission that a student task force was formed, two separate groups of 8th grade students presented powerful and well-received sessions at a local middle school – speaking to both students and parents – and at a woman’s advocacy group. Monthly Student Council check-in meetings have helped keep school leadership connected to student climate, which is often described as joyous – to such an extent that the word “joy” was added to our mission statement in 2010. Reflective of all this is our latest parent survey that indicates that 100% of our families believe their daughter is safe at our school and 96% report a positive school climate. This is all in addition to our on going and effective advisory program that helps us keep track of and address social-emotional issues.
We view our efforts this past year as part of an on-going effort that will need to be repeated year after year so that we can, in the words of one of our 8th graders, “become part of a movement” that says, “Not here!”