Student Prevention Programs & Family Assistance

Tamaica Jackson, Supervisor of Student Prevention Programs & Family Assistance
jacksots@pwcs.edu

 


The Student Prevention Program & Family Assistance staff offer programs to develop and support students to grow up healthy, caring, and responsible. We follow PWCS Strategic Plan, Goal 2: Climate: The teaching, learning, and working environment is caring, safe and healthy, and values diversity. Specific programs listed below promote a climate which supports equality, diversity, and collaborative behaviors among students and stakeholders. We aim to increase safe, responsible, and healthy behaviors and empower students. The major goal is to increase school connectedness to facilitate positive outcomes.

Positive values and social competencies of:

  • Cultural competence, equality, social justice (peer diversity training, peer mediation);
  • Resistance skills, planning, decision-making (bullying prevention, substance abuse prevention);
  • Peaceful conflict resolution (peer mediation, bullying prevention);
  • Caring, positive view of the future (suicide prevention);
  • Interpersonal competence, honesty, integrity (bullying/harassment prevention); and
  • External assets are developed in youth by provision of opportunities for leadership.


Bullying Prevention and Development of Social Competencies

1.  “No Place for Hate”:

No Place for Hate® is an educational initiative that empowers students, teachers, and parents to challenge bigotry, name-calling and bullying. ADL’s No Place for Hate® initiative provides schools and communities with an organizing framework for combating bias, bullying and hatred, leading to long-term solutions for creating and maintaining a positive climate. No Place for Hate® enables schools to:

  • Build inclusive and safe communities in which respect is the goal, and all students can thrive;
  • Empower students, faculty, administration and family members to take a stand against hate and bullying by incorporating new and existing programs under one powerful message;
  • Engage the entire community in anti-bias activities, which ADL helps the schools develop; and
  • Send a clear, unified message that all students have a place to belong.

Upon completion of the five-step process outlined below, schools are designated as No Place for Hate® for the school year and receive a banner recognizing their accomplishments at a year-end ceremony.

2. STUDENT-LED EFFORTS to combat bullying include the “World of Difference” Peer Diversity Program which provides high school students with the training and support necessary to facilitate anti-bias education workshops for their peers in the classroom. The program creates an awareness of the prejudices in society and discusses methods to combat them. Students participate in the annual PWCS Leadership Conference to younger middle school students. Every year peer trainers attend the  Washington Symphony Orchestra’s “In Concert Against Hate” at the Kennedy Center.

Within the framework of the 40 Developmental Assets, we promote youth empowerment and show our belief in the value of the contributions of young people. Some schools sponsor Rachel’s Challenge activities and Mix-It-Up days, for example.

 


Prince William County Public Schools is committed to a school environment in which students are free from bullying. Our Regulation was updated to include the following definition which is consistent with the Virginia Department of Education Model Policy.

Bullying means any aggressive and unwanted behavior that is intended to harm, intimidate, or humiliate the victim; involves a real or perceived power imbalance between the aggressor or aggressors and victim; and is repeated over time or causes severe emotional trauma. “Bullying” also includes cyber bullying, which involves the transmission, receipt, or display of electronic messages and/or images. Bullying does not include ordinary teasing, horseplay, argument, or peer conflict.

PWCSBullying Regulation 733.01-1

Bullying Prevention websites: A recent study shows that 17% of all students report having been bullied more than once within a school year. This means almost one in five students have experienced bullying in some manner. Learn the 10 myths of bullying.

Cybersafety websites: The recent explosion in electronic aggression is alarming to parents and school personnel. Increasing numbers of teens and pre-teens are becoming victims. What can be done about this problem?

Peer Training programs at high schools. Students practice activities, participate in special events, and conduct short workshops, related to diversity and anti-bias education. School coordinators are trained annually.

 



Substance Abuse and Prevention

  • The Student Prevention Programs & Family Assistance includes consultation services for school administrators as they work with students involved in Code of Behavior violations in the area of substance abuse;
  • The Focus on Tobacco (FOT) program is designed to meet the needs of first-time violators of the tobacco portion of the Code of Behavior. It is held three times a year; and
  • At the middle school level, the substance abuse prevention program has expanded and offered specific lessons for grades 6, 7, and 8 at seven schools last school year. Topics presented to students included the effects and prevention of alcohol, marijuana, and other drug abuse. Ms. Mallory McKnight, is the PWCS Substance Abuse Prevention Specialist and may be contacted at 703.791.8561.


Suicide Prevention Program

The Office of Student Services continues to implement the Comprehensive Suicide Prevention Program which has won recognition at the state level. The program includes student, staff, new teacher, and mental health professions components. The “Signs of Suicide” (SOS) program is conducted in all high schools in ninth grade and middle schools by a collaborative team of counselors, school social workers, and school psychologists. New teachers are required to take interactive suicide prevention training. The Office of Student Assistance and Prevention Programs in collaboration with PWCS Media and Production Services has developed an updated suicide prevention on-line training for new and experienced teachers to detect signs of depression and signs of suicidal behavior. New mental health professionals are expected to attend a more intensive training. The Kognito “At-Risk” training is offered to all staff. The purpose of the module is to alert teachers to signs of risky-behaviors displayed in the classroom so that they can assist students to make contact with counselors. The Office of Student Services supports student-led efforts to raise awareness of the risks of suicide and depression. In May 2015 and 2016 students from Forest Park organized a walk from Forest Park to Hylton High School to support efforts to prevent suicide

 



Homeless Education Program

The McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Act, now reauthorized under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), helps ensure full and equal educational access to homeless children and youth, defined as lacking a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence. Ms. Tamara Eppolite is the PWCS designated liaison. According to the law students have the right to remain in their school of origin, unless it is not in the best interest of the child due to distance. The students must be enrolled right away, even if supporting documents are not in hand.  The Project HopeVirginia grant is part of the efforts to support children who are residing in the Prince William County shelters. A fleet of tutors provides tutoring so that students are able to keep up with their lessons. A part-time social worker also works with the children and their preschool brothers and sisters.

Contact:

Tammy Eppolite, McKinney-Vento Homeless Liaison

Lisa Wirth, Tutoring Program

 



Parent Programs

The Office of Student Services has collaborated with schools and the Safe Schools Advisory Council to present a series of programs of interest that directly relate to our prevention efforts.

  • “After the Hurt” was a program designed to help parents guide their children through trials to success;
  • “With Help Comes Hope” was a parent event with Battlefield High School to help parents support youth who experience grief and stress;
  • “Take Away Student Bullying” was a special session at Benton Middle School to help parents understand signs of bullying and ways to address it with their children; and
  • “To Take Away Bullying, You Need to Know Bullying” was an interactive program featuring an international bullying expert and conflict resolution specialist.