Safe and Welcoming Schools
Bullying – once considered an inevitable adolescent rite of passage – is a widespread issue that has serious and negative impacts on the academic achievement, educational aspirations, and psychological well-being of all students.
According to the 2009 Colorado Healthy Kids Survey, 19% of students in our state reported being bullied in school. Nationally, an overwhelming majority of students report being bullied due to their race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender expression, religion, or disability. Over a third of the students who did report an incident said that school staff did nothing in response (Harris Interactive and GLSEN, 2009).
Students who experience bullying are more likely to miss school; drop out; and be depressed, anxious, or consider suicide (Banks, 2000; Limber, 2002). However, research has demonstrated that bullying can be reduced and prevented by integrating youth-driven bullying prevention approaches into existing school climate efforts, and focusing on students who are most likely to be bullied (i.e. LGBT students, students with disabilities, etc).
Additionally, during the 2011 legislative session, our legislators passed and Governor Hickenlooper signed into law a bill that requires school boards to update or enact anti-bullying policies, further emphasizing the need for attention on bullying prevention in Colorado’s public schools.
In response to this issue, the Colorado Legacy Foundation has developed the Safe and Welcoming Schools Initiative. The Initiative’s mission is to advance best practices in bullying prevention in Colorado school districts as a strategy to improve school climate and student outcomes. Funded by a generous grant from the Gill Foundation, the Initiative provides guidance, financial resources, technical assistance, and support to school districts and schools piloting bullying prevention programs to create positive, respectful school climates and empower adults and students to appropriately respond to bullying.
Through the Initiative, CLF continues to develop and disseminate bullying prevention resources, and offer training on best practice bullying prevention approaches through our Bullying Prevention Institute.