Olweus Anti-Bully Program
In 2002 the surrounding Belfast district adopted the Olweus Anti-bully program K-12 and conducted multiple trainings with staff and students related to bullying. The use of this common vocabulary continues at the K-12 level. Vocabulary and definitions of bully, bystander, and ally are taught to all students used frequently when engaging in conversations about bullying.
Relationships & Supervision
THMS staff value relationships built with students over the course of the three years. Several initiatives occur to facilitate these relationships. Students spend their three years of middle school with the same advisor. They have time with this individual three separate times of the school day; to start the day, end the day, and in the middle of the day for intervention time. The Principal and Assistant Principal greet students each morning as they arrive and wait to go to advisory allowing for personal check-ins. They additionally are present supervising each of the three 30 minute lunch periods.
Whole School Advisory Activities
Students participate in activities related to the development of prosocial skills. These activities occur within their advisory classroom most often using the circle process (all students seated in a circle with a talking piece) and involve a stimulus related to a relevant topic. Stimulus have included recent newspaper clippings, video clips, a short story or scenario, or recent event in the school or community.
All students in grades 6, 7 and 8 engage in health and physical education activities related to topics of bully prevention and quality mental health. The program in grade 6 spends a great deal of time teaching and practicing conflict resolution skills, engaging in role plays and scenario discussions related to bullying and conflict.
THMS staff believe strongly that it is the responsibility of every member of the school community; staff, students and parents, to maintain and support a bully free environment. The slogan “Bully Free Starts With Me” reminds all members to connect to their inner voice and reflect upon their role within the community. Are they being kind to others? Are they supporting those in need as an ally? Are they speaking out against bullying when they see or hear something unkind? Students are encouraged and expected to be allies, in particular as they advance in grade, with our grade 8 students carrying the burden of being positive role models.
At random moments during a school year up to two times during the year, depending upon the level of concern and frequency of reports of bullying, an anonymous bully survey has been conducted. This survey has provided names of individuals engaging in high levels of bully behavior in order to allow for targeted intervention and supervision of students of concern.
Restorative Justice Program
We are the original developers of the school based restorative justice model having built the model based off of the work by the Midcoast Restorative Justice Project in 2004. THMS staff worked closely with members of the MRJP and individuals from the University of Maine's Peace Studies Program to learn how to facilitate circle conversations both in the classroom as well as for the adapted detention program. Students issued an after school detention engage in a restorative justice circle to seek resolution and determine a course of restitution for the harm done.
Bullying Reporting, Investigation and Intervention Process
RSU #71 school board policy included procedures and documents for reporting, investigating and documenting allegations of bullying. This reporting procedure is available on-line as well as copies of the report form readily available to students and parents in the THMS office. Interventions in addition to those indicated above include but are not limited to:
Rules regarding bully behavior are known by all students and enforced consistently by all THMS staff.
Schedule and/or team changes to separate students engaged in conflict and bully behavior that cannot be resolved through guidance and support.
Physical school environment remains clean and displays of positive messages are evident throughout including student work.
Functional behavior analysis support for students engaging in bully behavior as well as students frequently victimized with the planned proactive intervention related to function(s).
Regularly scheduled meetings between students, administrators, and/or guidance involved in bully situations (bully or victim) to follow-up and check-in regarding current school experience.