When it comes to negative behaviors such as bullying, the St. Thomas Aquinas Roman (STAR) Catholic School division looks to educate students on what it means to act through virtuous conduct as a solution.
“Basically we have an admin procedure called Safe and Caring Learning Environment for Students,” said assistant superintendent Kevin Booth.
Within the procedure bullying, lack of respect, conflict and harassment are all addressed, says Booth.
In STAR schools proper behavior and treatment of other people, rather than being taught through individual programs is a concept incorporated into the curriculum at every grade level.
“What we hope is that they’d be entering into every relationship and every situation with the guiding principal ‘what would Jesus do,’” said Booth.
“We want to treat each other with respect and dignity,” he added.
Booth says the division and the school employ a “myriad” of methods to get the message out. It also is not solely directed as students; respect relates to how students interact with each other, with teachers and how teachers and other staff interact with students.
Booth says the focus of the division’s education is not on bullying but on positive behavior, respect, conflict resolution and communication.
“We wouldn’t be talking about reducing bullying, it’s about increasing virtues,” said Booth.
Especially with younger students, some behavior seen as bullying is a lack of understanding in more mature solutions and also the way they interact with each other. Booth says some students need more guidance and structure to help them develop the skills to choose the proper behavior.
With the high school students a topic that needs to be covered is any harassment or bullying that takes place online. “We have in place a digital citizenship program,” said Booth.
Booth and the division also teach the students about empathy as a way to stem negative interactions between them and create connectedness. The division also uses a Roots of Empathy program to help with this.
“The division has a responsibility, schools have a responsibility, principals have a responsibility, teachers, parents, everybody has a role,” said Booth.