Studies show that more than 160,000 students in the United States miss school every day because they are afraid of being bullied. For this reason, Kern County Superintendent of Schools (KCSOS) spearheads the Safe Schools Ambassadors (SSA) initiative locally, which trains diverse student leaders with the skills to safely and effectively speak up when they encounter their peers bullying others. SSA is supported with funds from community partners and state and national grants, and is administrated through KCSOS’s anti-bullying partner Community Matters.
In an effort to simplify the existing paper and pencil reporting system used within the SSAprogram, Community Matters has partnered with Sprigeo, developers of an innovative tool that allows students involved as Ambassadors to report whenthey witness bullying and other forms of mistreatment and how they have employed SSA skills to diffuse the situation through a mobile app or desktop computer.
Six Kern County school districts are involved in the pilot program, with seven local schools currently pilot testing the technology: Bakersfield High School, Golden Valley High School, Greenfield Middle School, Lincoln Junior High, Rosedale Middle School, Taft High School and Tehachapi High School. These schools are the national pilot sites for this project.
“Sprigeo is proud to be partnering with Community Matters and the Safe School Ambassadors program to create a user-friendly app for students to use to track their interventions,” said Julie Sorenson, Sprigeo’s vice president of customer service. “Consistent with our focus on keeping students safe, this application will streamline the documentation process associated with the great work that Safe School Ambassadors are doing in their schools.”
The app allows students to report their SSA actions using a smart-phone (Android or iPhone) or laptop/desk top computer. For example, when students who are trained as Ambassadors notice bullying or mistreatment on campus, they think about the situation and act using one of the Ambassador skills and then follow through as “upstanders”, not bystanders. Then they can simply file a report using their mobile device with a click of a few buttons. The report is then sent directly to the site advisor, which helps track the effectiveness of the program.
Districts committed to support the pilot project through May at which time feedback will be analyzed and used to make adaptions in the app design so that it may be improved and eventually be used in some or all of the more than 1,500 SSA public and private school sites across 32 states, Puerto Rico, Guam and Canada.
About Safe School Ambassadors®
The program was developed by Community Matters in 1999 to help prevent and stop peer mistreatment and violence among 4th through 12th grade students. Since then, over 1,500 public and private schools have adopted this powerful program in 32 states, Puerto Rico, Guam and Canada.
The SSA program mobilizes the bystanders to stand up and speak up safely and effectively toimprove school climate. SSA empowers leaders from the diverse groups and cliques on campus and equips them with nonviolent communication and intervention skills to prevent and stop bullying and violence among their peers.
An independent two-year study showed suspension rates were 33 percent lower in schools that implemented Safe School Ambassadors®, compared to matched non-SSA control schools, where suspensions increased 10 percent during the same period.
Sprigeo is on a mission to keep kids safe at schools and in their communities. Its platform gives schools the tools they need to report bullying and other safety threats anonymously. Sprigeo's online system (www.Sprigeo.com ) allows students to report at any time and from any device with an internet connection. The Sprigeo system also includes a free app for smartphones andtablet devices. Now in use by over 1,000 schools and community sites across 27 states, the online reporting system has proven itself as a safe way for kids to report bullying, resulting in fewer incidents over time.
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