Taylorsville Elementary SWATs away bullyingOct 31, 2016 09:34AM ● By Tori La Rue
Detective Scott Lloyd, of Unified Police Department, converses with Taylorsville Elementary Students on Oct. 7—the last day of Red Ribbon week where students pledged to say no to drugs and bullying. (Tori La Rue/City Journals)
By Tori La Rue | [email protected]
Taylorsville, Utah - Taylorsville Elementary School’s new principal and social worker seek to swat away bullying through prevention and reporting programs.
“Our biggest concern at school is about safety for the kids and bullying is a big part of that,” said Principal Janice Flanagan, who began administering at Taylorsville Elementary this fall after being transferred from Copper Hills Elementary in Magna. “We want to arm them with the idea that they can stand up, and that they have power to hold up their hand to say stop.”
Flanagan and Tiana MCcall, a social worker who joined the school’s staff in August, held two anti-bullying assemblies on Sept 15. They taught students how to stand up for themselves during instances of bullying using a research method from Utah State University called SWAT, which is an acronym for Stop, Walk And Tell.
SWAT is a reactionary bullying prevention method where a person who begins to be bullied verbally and physically tells the bully to stop by saying “stop” while putting his or her hand out in front of him in the “stop” hand signal. At this point, most of the bullies stop, according to Flanagan, but if they don’t kids are encouraged to walk away and tell an adult.
“We want to help them know how to never be a victim,” Flanagan said. “Research shows that when kids stand up for themselves bullies will stop and try to pick on someone else who they think will be an easier target.”
Many bullying programs focus on teaching bullies that bullying is bad, but McCall said she believes the SWAT method is incredibly effective because it empowers the potential victim by helping them believe that they shouldn’t tolerate the taunting.
“We can’t always stop the bad things that happen to us,” McCall said. “If kids can learn how to cope it will translate into other areas of their life. They’ll realize if they can stop bullying they can stop other situations, and that’s a good skill to feel like they can do something about the things that happen to them.”
McCall and Flanagan visited each class in October and revisited the steps of SWAT. Most students in the school can recite the steps just as they were taught but are having some difficulty putting the program into practice.
Flanagan, who’s used SWAT at other schools, said there’s a learning curve, and that she expects a decrease in bullying over the course of the year even though there hasn’t been an immediate change. When students are bullying or get bullied, Flanagan said it gives her and MCcall a chance to reteach SWAT and helps direct a plan for future student conduct.
Taylorsville Elementary celebrated red ribbon week Oct. 3-7. The week’s typical pledge was lengthened from “say no to drugs” to “say no to drugs and bullying.”
“They’re both Something wanting to enforce strongly,” McCall said. “We wanted to reinforce them over and over.”
Taylorsville Elementary students participated in activities through red ribbon week that reminded them to say no to drugs and bullying. On the last day of red ribbon week Detective Scott Lloyd with Unified Police Department visited the school during lunch time to teach kids to stay away from drugs and bullying. He awarded children stickers for good behavior.
Flanagan said the school will continue to focus on anti-bullying techniques throughout the year by reviewing SWAT, posting the school-wide behavior expectations in classrooms and hallways, administering school reporting surveys, teaching life and behavioral skills in the classroom, publicizing SafeUtah— a 24/7 crisis intervention app—and responding to notes left in the school’s Buddy Box—a box in the front office where students may leave messages that notify administration about depression, bully, drug abuse or other issues.
“This is a big concern in our community and every community, and we want to be proactive,” Flanagan said.
For more information about bullying prevention, visit stopbullying.gov.