OCDE bullying prevention program promotes inclusivity and the power of ‘One’

More than 1 out of every 5 students will be bullied this year, according to data from the National Center for Education Statistics. And while experts have reported that bullying decreased when schools were closed due to the pandemic, many say the return to school will almost certainly change that trend.

With October recognized nationally as National Bullying Prevention Month, we reached out to OCDE’s Bullying Prevention team, who has been working to spread messages of unity, kindness and inclusion as students adapt to in-person instruction and new social situations on campuses throughout Orange County.

The team works year-round to support schools with their efforts to provide a safe, welcoming and positive environment for students, families and staff members. And this month they’re asking Orange County to come together on Oct. 20 in support of Unity Day.

Started by PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center, Unity Day is the signature event of National Bullying Prevention Month and is held on the third Wednesday in October. The goal is to wear orange and spread a visible message that no child should ever experience bullying.

“It’s incredibly important that we continue to implement anti-bullying strategies for not only students and staff, but our families and communities as well,” OCDE Administrator for Student Achievement and Wellness Nicole Savio said.

In addition to supporting national bullying initiatives, OCDE’s Bullying Prevention team provides training, technical assistance and school-wide assemblies on bullying prevention and intervention strategies.

Savio says the team recently launched “One,” which is an interactive school-wide assembly for elementary schools that raises awareness about the harmful effects of bullying.

During the assembly, award-winning author Kathryn Otoshi presents her book “One” to demonstrate a powerful message about bullying, acceptance, compassion and the power of one person’s voice. The presentation is followed by an art project or youth development activity designed to reinforce the bullying prevention message and the kindness pledge learned during the assembly.

In addition to “One,” OCDE also offers the following bullying prevention and awareness programs and services — currently being offered in-person and virtually — for students in various grade levels, along with a self-guided workshop for parents.

Elementary and middle school

“Cyberbullying and the Harm on Youth” is a special training offered for students in grades four through 12. Focus areas for the training include the effects of cyberbullying and digital drama, proactive prevention strategies, internet safety, communication etiquette and how to report cyberbullying.

Middle school

“I’ve Got Your Back” includes trainings for select groups of student leaders as well as school-wide assemblies that address concerns about bullying, the consequences that may arise from bullying, and what students can do to help prevent bullying. This two-day program utilizes a collective approach by involving students to maintain accountability and unity through a school-wide bullying prevention campaign.

For families

“Cyberbullying and Digital Drama” is currently available online in a self-guided format, or it can be scheduled as a virtual workshop for parent groups with facilitation by OCDE staff. The presentation was developed using curriculum from Common Sense Education and consists of three brief modules: “What is cyberbullying?”, “What do I need to look out for as a parent?” and “How can I help my child with preventing and dealing with cyberbullying?”

Bullying Prevention is part of OCDE’s Violence Prevention Education (VPE) program, which is funded by the Orange County Health Care Agency’s Behavioral Health Services division through Proposition 63, known as the Mental Health Services Act. For more information on any of these programs, or to be placed on a program interest list, please contact Jacquie Johnson, OCDE project liaison, at JacquieJohnson@ocde.us or 714-966-4473.