As the young child is at high risk for victimization, the CAP preschool program sets a strong foundation for ongoing prevention education in each preschooler’s life. Program evaluation has determined that the young child does retain personal safety information, and these strategies provide the setting for ongoing self-esteem building and prevention education.
Preschool CAP is designed for 3½ to 5-year-old children and takes about 45 minutes a day over three consecutive days. Specially trained facilitators present children’s rights and personal safety issues through the use of pictures, dolls, songs, and role-plays. Role-plays deal with aggression from a bully, a stranger, and a known adult. Children participate in the highly interactive format and respond positively to the developmentally appropriate and sensitive curriculum. Each day’s workshop is followed by individual review time in the classroom.
Kindergarten workshops are implemented by three facilitators in two 60 minute programs on two consecutive days. Created by early childhood educators, this developmentally appropriate program utilizes pictures, songs and role-plays to educate children on personal safety issues. On the first day, the concept of “rights”are introduced. A bully and a stranger roleplay are presented through guided group discussion. Children are given some self protection strategies and are taught that the importance of getting away from a dangerous situation and getting help.
The second day addresses a healthy body concept. This is done through roleplays which establishes healthy boundaries and self-concept. Review time is conducted in the classroom and follows the program in order to reinforce and review the workshop concepts as well as allow children additional opportunity to individually process the information.
Elementary workshops are one hour classroom workshops facilitated by three CAP facilitators. Using role-plays and guided group discussion, the classroom workshop trains children to recognize potentially dangerous situations, and to make effective use of the options available to them when dealing with such a situation. CAP emphasizes self assertion, peer support and communication with a trusted adult as prevention strategies. CAP approaches the question of assault within the framework of basic human rights.
The opening discussion of “rights” is followed by three role-plays. Each one is followed by discussion. These role-plays represent the most common assault experiences a child might encounter: child against child (the playground bully),adult stranger against child, and assault involving an adult the child knows.The role-plays are used to provide situations from which children and brainstorm successful strategies. Preschool CAP ClipEach role-play is performed twice. First the child is shown as a victim.Then, after a “brainstorming session” the role-play is redone as a “success story”,incorporating positive prevention techniques. Children are given an opportunity to participate in supportive roles to practice positive behavior. These role-plays are conducted by certified adult CAP facilitators (Note: CAP never allows children participating in their programs to be placed in a negative or scary role even if they are only acting.)
In a final role play, the classroom teacher is invited to play her/himself as a supportive adult responding to a child’s request for help. This role-play gives children an opportunity to visualize what would happen if they needed to talk to someone about a problem. It gives a clear message to children that their teachers care and are there to offer support.
Following a brief summary, children are told that CAP facilitators will be available for further discussion. We have found that many children seek out workshop facilitators to talk about a variety of issues. The emphasis during this review time is primarily reinforcing skills learned during the classroom workshop and strengthening children’s belief in their rights to be SAFE, STRONG and FREE.
Teens are a high risk population for violence and abuse because they are twice as likely as an adult to be a victim of a violent crime and they are exposed to more violence than any other segment of our population. The TeenCAP program offers strategies to prevent this violence. It is designed for adolescents, and presented by a male and female facilitator in three 40-45 minute classroom periods.
Workshops are held in individual classrooms. The programs include discussion of personal safety rights, types of assaults and effective strategies for handling many potentially dangerous situations. Young men and women are separated on the second and third days to foster a more comfortable environment for the discussion of issues of bullying, harassment, and sexual assault.
Children with developmental disabilities are especially vulnerable to abuse, assault and bullying, by peers as well as adults. This population of children also may lack the social, cognitive and/or language abilities to assert themselves, make informed decisions, understand consequences, and communicate when personal boundaries have been violated. Special needs presentations are designed for cognitively impaired students in the intermediate grades. The five-day program focuses on working closely with the classroom teacher to teach body concepts, recognition of body rights and to develop self-confidence and independence.
What people have said about their bullying experiences?
“I was teased so horrendously and became so socially isolated that I still suffer from nightmares and a deep sense of shame and self doubt.”
– an adult survivor of bullying
“Although I had high academic standing, I felt in a constant state of humiliation, intimidation and fear. I felt totally unattractive.”
– an adult survivor of bullying
“Thirty years later I still cringe at the thought of what I did…”
– an adult who, as a child, had bullied other children
A victim who eventually bullied others states:
“Bullying was like a drug. It provided a temporary feeling of power and control over others…however over time, I became totally withdrawn from healthy friendships. I had a hard time relating to others.”
Current research reveals that one in six children is victimized by bullying behavior. The type of bullying has also become more serious. There are more physical acts of peer violence than ever before. The Child Assault Prevention (CAP) project offers a comprehensive approach to the problem of bullying in schools. “CAP’s Bullying Prevention Program” is an innovative program designed for Kindergarten to 8th grade and is to be implemented in schools that have already had the Child Assault Prevention Program. It has a three-prong approach to the problem with workshops for school staff, parents and children.
‘CAP’s Bullying Prevention Program’ seeks to mobilize the school to:
• raise awareness and identify types of bullying and harassment
• encourage anti-bully/harassment polices
• train adults in appropriate intervention strategies
• improve student communication, conflict resolution, problem solving and other social skills
The program has received very positive feedback from participating schools. The strongest recommendations come from the children trained in the program – over 150,000 to date. Many of them have shared not only their accounts of victimization but also their stories of bullying others. On more than one occasion, students have resolved to ‘stop hurting others’. With assistance from the school, they received help to begin changing their aggressive behavior.
A whole school approach to the problem includes workshops for school staff, parents and students.
This initial meeting at the beginning of the school year brings together the school administration and the CAP county coordinator to go over the specifics of implementing the ‘CAP’s Bullying Prevention Program’ Program in the school.
All school staff are invited to this 1½ to 2 hour workshop. It helps school staff recognize the effects of bullying behaviors on victims, bullies and witnesses and addresses the school community’s responsibility for appropriate intervention strategies to promote a safe school environment.
This 1½ to 2 hour workshop is similar to the teacher/staff workshop. It helps parents to discuss the problem of bullying behaviors in their schools and communities. Strategies are given on how parents can help children who are victims, bullies or witnesses, change their behaviors.
Steering Committee Meeting:
A meeting held prior to students’ workshops to discuss the unique needs of the school community with student, staff, administration and parent leaders. The committee is made up of a diverse representation of the school community. Its purpose is to oversee the program and to carry out recommendations to further the de-escalation of bullying in the school.
Kindergarten – 2nd grade- This two day interactive workshop uses a variety of age appropriate techniques to engage young children in activities and discussions about bullying behaviors. These activities help develop empathy for children who are bullied and promote assertive and positive behaviors within the classroom. The use of affirmation and cooperation encourage team building within the group.
Role-plays are used to illustrate situations and children are asked to brainstorm successful strategies. Self-assertion, peer support and telling trusted adults are the strategies CAP facilitators encourage the children to use. These role-plays give children the opportunity to participate in supportive roles as witnesses and to practice positive behavior.
3rd- 8th grade – These workshops are developmentally appropriate for students in the elementary and middle grades. They promote awareness and sensitivity to bullying behaviors and offer strategies for responses to bullying behaviors. A time frame of 2 hours is provided, depending on what grade level is implemented. These workshops highlight the interactive roles of not only the victim and bully but also the witnesses. It empowers the witnesses, who comprise 85% of all children involved in the bullying dynamic, to take a stand by not participating in bullying behaviors and in reporting acts of aggression. At the conclusion of each day’s workshop, children are given the opportunity to meet individually with the CAP facilitators. The purpose of this review time is to reinforce skills taught during the classroom workshop.It is also a time when children may ask questions, seek help in problem solving a specific bullying situation and strengthen their belief that all children have the right to be SAFE, STRONG and FREE.
An additional session “Cyber-empowerment” is available for the 6th-8th grade students. This workshop delves into the cyber world of today’s youth and explores how some electronic communications are opportunities for bullying, bias crimes and violence among students.
A meeting held with the steering group from the implementation meeting to review the information gathered and the results of the dialogue with students as well as planning for the next phase of the bullying prevention program. A written synopsis will be given to the committee that will summarize the amount and severity of bullying in the school from the school community’s perspective. Suggestions will be given to the committee for ongoing de-escalation of bullying in the school, including setting up school policies, adult intervention and committees on bullying, with the group from the implementation meeting to review the information gathered and the results of the dialogue with students, as well as planning for the next phase of the bullying prevention program.
‘CAP’s Bullying Prevention Program’ seeks to mobilize the school to:
Frank Joseph and Linda Gregorits, were guidance counselors in the Hackettstown School District in Warren County, where they worked together for more than 20 years. Violence prevention for them was one part of a comprehensive developmental guidance program and ‘CAPs Bullying Prevention Program’ came to their attention at the right time.
Students were concerned about bullying that was taking place, particularly in the fifth grade, and Hackettstown decided to use the program beginning with the establishment of an implementation team that consisted of administrators, counselors, teachers, and five students. Based on the problem, a revised building level policy was developed, and the student handbook was updated to specifically address bullying issues.
The school district uses a planned approach to violence prevention, with age-appropriate themes throughout the middle school grades. The instructional part of the bullying prevention program is introduced in the fifth grade as part of the developmental guidance program, with a follow-up series for the sixth graders. In the seventh grade, The Teen Child Assault Prevention Program is used, which focuses on conflict resolution, and in eighth grade Domestic Abuse and Rape Crisis Center of Warren County has provided a program on sexual harassment. The core group of five students who were part of the original implementation team meets periodically throughout the school year to help monitor the progress of the ‘No More Bullies, No More Victims’ program. They check on the need for specific interventions and provide suggestions about other strategies that might be useful. As Frank Joseph says, “It’s not enough just bringing programs in. You have to prepare to do it, do it, and then follow-up.” Since implementing the ‘CAP’s Bullying Prevention Program’, the school has reduced both the frequency and amount of bullying incidents. “We are very pleased,” Gregorits says. “The program has made a tremendously positive impact on our school.” Taken from the NJEA Review: Violence Prevention – What Works; Phil Brown, Ed.D.
‘CAP’s Bullying Prevention Program’ is a program offered by all of New Jersey’s 21 CAP county projects. For more information, call your local CAP project.