The Student Assistance Program provides families with support and resources for students who have been traumatized by bullying.
Every year, thousands of schools and communities participate in National Bullying Prevention Month in October. The goal is to increase awareness to prevent bullying across the country. At CCA, teachers and staff are committed to helping students who have been bullied and to making sure they know of all the resources available to victims of bullying.
Families choose CCA for many reasons. One is that CCA is often a safe haven for students who have been bullied at other schools. Because of this, CCA has resources in place to assist students dealing with the aftermath of bullying.
Guidance counselors are always available as an outlet to listen and help kids in the healing process. They are professionals ready to help formulate strategies to assist students impacted by bullying as they transition to CCA.
Typical post-bullying issues include:
- Higher anxiety levels
- Fear of being called on
- Prefer watching recorded lessons instead of participating in the live setting
- Distrust and discomfort with teachers
- Uncomfortable talking to teachers because a teacher might have let them down in the past
- Not comfortable calling teachers
- Fear of getting in trouble for reaching out to teachers
Many parents tell guidance counselors about their situation, and the CCA counselor works with families and their teachers to figure out the best plan, tailored to the issues their children are experiencing.
“Communicating with teachers on anxieties the child may be experiencing, such as being called on, helps us do whatever we can to help students stay engaged and on track academically as well,” said Anthony Perrotto, chairman of CCA’s Student Assistance Program.
CCA can create an environment for students’ individual needs and can provide solutions that traditional schools might not.
“We’re more aware of the student’s situation and what brought them here and what we need to put into place to help them succeed,” Perrotto said.
CCA can enable students with these anxieties to attend virtual lessons in a faceless form and can even switch students’ teachers to fit their specific needs.
“Here, there is no passing your bully in the hall or facing someone every day during sixth-period math class,” said Brian Comegna, manager of pupil services at CCA.
The Student Assistance Program can be a valuable resource. SAP is made up of administrators, teachers, counselors and outside professionals who are trained to help students who are experiencing non-academic barriers to learning, such as bullying.
The goal of SAP is to identify students experiencing these barriers. Once issues have been identified, SAP refers the student for evaluation by linking families to resources in their community. The program also puts into place accommodations and support in the school environment to help them achieve academic success.
Typical signs that your learner could be a victim of bullying include:
- Changes in engagement with family members, teachers and peers
- Student isn’t participating in or regularly completing lessons
- Declining interest in organized activities with peers
- Changes in academic performance
Teachers get to know their students, and when they pick up on changes in behavior they can refer them to SAP. Family mentors also are trained to pay attention to details that indicate something else is going on and know when a referral is appropriate. Parents can refer their children — and students can refer themselves — to the program.
Once SAP receives referrals, a certified case manager reaches out to the family to discuss resources. Typical resources could be individual counseling, support groups or mentor programs in the community. It all depends on the family’s circumstances, what their needs are and what resources SAP can connect them with.
“Our SAP is just like our academic program,” Perrotto said. “It’s individualized. We try to find what would be the best fit for that family and also consider their financial situation and their transportation needs. Sometimes we can refer them to virtual counseling if they can’t get transportation to wherever it is they would need to go.”
Because no place is immune from bullying — especially now that cyberbullying is so prevalent — CCA believes in using all of its resources to aid victims of previous bullying, stop bullying in its tracks when it is reported and implement best practices to prevent future bullying.
“Students can’t be academically successful without having additional support for some of these other things that may be going on in their lives,” Perrotto said.
In addition to SAP and individual time with guidance counselors, CCA conducts guidance lessons for elementary, middle and high school students, emphasizing social etiquette skills, conflict resolution and starting the conversation around bullying.
“We believe in starting young with the prevention of it, the understanding of it and the addressing of it, so that victims of bullying know it is not their fault and the bullies know it is not OK,” Comegna said.
CCA teaches students what type of behavior is acceptable and what to do if they see bullying or are bullied — and whom to go to for help.
Comegna and Perrotta gave tips to parents of students who were bullied before coming to CCA and parents who suspect their students have been bullied.
“Share with CCA what happened, how it’s affected them and what changes they are seeing in their child’s behavior or engagement, so we can look for what sorts of things we can do to respond and support you as you’re going through this,” Perrotto said.
“If you suspect there is bullying going on, talk about it with your child and with CCA so we can work together to address it, stop it and change things for better ways to prevent bullying in the future,” Comegna said.
At CCA, preventing bullying is a team effort. Administrators, teachers, family mentors, guidance counselors and members of SAP constantly look to use all of their tools to ensure that students learn in a safe and respectful environment.
When it comes to bullying, CCA believes in speaking up. Not just in October, but every month of the year.