The Oregon Plan for Youth Suicide PreventionSTRATEGY 4: REDUCE HARASSMENT IN SCHOOLS AND COMMUNITIESResources for Strategy #4
Reduce harassment in schools and communities through the creation and implementation of inclusive anti-harassment school policies, staff training, and school curricula.
All staff and students in schools.
RATIONALE AND EFFICACY
Students must feel safe in school and other learning environments if they are to achieve their maximum potential. Lack of physical and emotional safety can result in negative educational outcomes linked to risk behaviors.
Students may be marginalized for a wide variety of reasons, including physical characteristics, disability, medical conditions, religion, gender, race, ethnic/cultural identity, sexual orientation, and gender identity.
Studies have established a link between victimization at school with an elevated risk of suicidal ideation and behavior in adolescents.22, 23, 24 Nearly one-third of Oregon high school students responding to the 1997 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) reported being harassed at school during the previous 30 days. These students were three times more likely to report a prior suicide attempt. At greatest increassed risk were victims of sexual harassment and those who were perceived to be gay, lesbian, or bisexual.25
There is a strong link between victimization at school and an elevated risk of suicidal ideation and behavior.
Communities differ in the extent to which they accept individual and group differences and schools tend to reflect the attitudes of the community. It is important to work with all aspects of the community in finding agreement about what constitutes safe and supportive learning environments for all youth and young adults.
Staff training should clearly define inappropriate student behavior and empower staff to intervene effectively.
Teaching students tolerance is best done within the context of other risk and protective factors that affect student health and safety.
SAMPLE IMPLEMENTATION ACTIVITIES
- Assess school district policy with regard to non-discrimination, student protection from harassment and violence, user-friendly grievance procedures, and the existence of clearly stated consequences that are consistently enforced.
- Work with school boards and school districts to identify gaps and address needs in school policy language and enforcement to increase safety in school learning environments.
- Utilize local YRBS data or other student survey information to assess needs and implement action plans to address needs.
- Train school staff to identify harassing behavior and effectively intervene.
- Train school staff to teach tolerance.
- Implement tolerance education in classroom curricula.
Savin-Williams R. Verbal and physical abuse as stressors in the lives lesbian, gay male, and bisexual youths: associations with school problems, running away, substance abuse, prostitution, and suicide. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. 1994. 62(2):261-269. 23
Garofalo R, Wolf C, Wissow L, et al. Sexual Orientation and Risk of Suicide Attempts Among a Representative Sample of Youth.Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1999; 153:487-493. 24
Rigby K. Effects of peer victimization in schools and perceived social support on adolescent well being. J Adolesc, 2000 Feb;23(1):57-68. 25
Center for Health Statistics. Suicidal Behavior. A Survey of Oregon High School Students, 1997. Health Services. Oregon Department of Human Services. 1998. Portland, Oregon.Back to Top