Committee for Children Blog

Bullying Down, Academics Up with SEL

The Second Step program empowers schools to create positive classroom climates where students thrive

Every state but one has adopted anti-bullying legislation. By now, many school districts have developed and put into place policies and procedures that outline actions to take against bullying. These policies are necessary in setting the groundwork for promoting a safe, positive climate for students. However, schools also acknowledge that more needs to be done to bring about change in students’ behaviors. The question is what can be done when educators are called on to do so much already. One solution is to implement a research-based social-emotional learning program that incorporates bullying prevention.

Research-based curricula that teach social-emotional learning (SEL) help create physically and emotionally safe school environments where children can thrive socially and academically. According to a meta-analysis by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning, SEL programs improve students’ attitudes and behavior and can increase academic performance by 11 percentile points. SEL programs also teach skills that can help your students resist bullying and build an overall positive climate within the school.

If you use the Second Step program, you know that it includes easy-to-teach classroom lessons for early learning through eighth grade designed to enhance students’ academic and social-emotional competence by building skills for learning, and empathy, emotion-management, social problem-solving, and self-regulation skills. Embedded within the units are topics such as friendship building and how to be assertive, which are also key skills in bullying prevention.

Because experiences during the early school years lay the foundation for ongoing peer relationships and can include a pattern of being bullied, we’ve created the Bullying Prevention Unit, basing it on the latest research and evalution, including a recent study of our Steps to Respect program. Combined with the Second Step program, this new unit can help you enforce your district’s anti-bullying policy and give your schools the tools they need to really make a real difference.

The Second Step Bullying Prevention Unit features online training for all staff. An expert team of researchers, principals, lawyers, teachers, and prevention specialists leads school staff through interactive exercises and skill practice to make sure every adult in the school is ready to address bullying at any time. In addition, completing the staff training can help you comply with your state’s bullying prevention laws.

The Bullying Prevention Unit also includes five developmentally appropriate student lessons per grade level in kindergarten through third grade. Media rich and engaging, the lessons feature stories written with beloved children’s author and anti-bullying advocate Trudy Ludwig. And the bullying prevention skills integrate seamlessly with the social-emotional skills taught in the Second Step program.

Principal Kim Bilanko of Benjamin Franklin Elementary in Kirkland, WA, sums up the importance of training both staff and students:
“Relationships are so key in solving bullying issues. Kids have to trust that the adult cares, and so having that relationship is so important. Parents have to trust that the school is listening and doing something about it…. All it really takes is one adult not listening to make a kid feel like nobody cares. And that’s why it’s so important that every single adult in a building has the strategy and the knowledge to be able to listen to a student and validate what they’re saying.”