How can educators teach prevention to their students?
Educators* are the most critical pieces of the prevention puzzle. Educators serve as a guide or compass for students and play a vital role in shaping how they view the world around them. No matter what age group you directly work with, there are endless opportunities to shape the character and future of an individual. Safe learning environments are essential to educational success and school connectedness can play a critical role in positive outcomes.
‘go’ on a learning journey
Between lesson plans, grading, administrative responsibilities, and staffing schedules, we know that educators’ days are full. But taking the time to expand one’s knowledge about the vital role of safe learning environments is a critical component to students’ success. You can check out resources like:
- The Safe Places to Learn resource packet includes a range of materials to support schools in preventing peer-on-peer sexual harassment and sexual violence;
- The National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s (NSVRC’s) fact sheet on actions that faculty and staff can take to prevent sexual violence specifically on college campuses;
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a comprehensive guide on preventing child sexual abuse in schools and youth-serving organizations. The guide covers screening employees and volunteers, responding to inappropriate behaviors, training caregivers and youth, and more;
- This NSVRC fact sheet details how administrators on college campuses can support their college or university in preventing violence;
- NJCASA’s resource on campus sexual assault covers facts and statistics around violence on campus and ways educators can respond to students who disclose to them and prevent violence.
make a u-turn for bystander behavior
Pro-social bystanders are those that can find safe ways to act when they see harmful behaviors and attitudes. In your day-to-day engagement with colleagues and students, “hit the brakes” if you see bullying happening or victim blaming. Don’t excuse inappropriate behavior with comments like, “Boys will be boys,” but rather use them as an opportunity for growth. We like this document of bystander intervention examples for educators from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC).
collaborate to create safe learning environments
Collaboration is critical to achieving safe learning environments. Consider partnering with your local sexual violence service provider which has trained staff that can assist you with disseminating thoughtful prevention messages. You can check out additional resources like:
- NJCASA’s overview of prevention, which includes resources on primary prevention, bystander intervention, media literacy, and more;
- NJCASA’s “A Bright Future” research document, which covers prevention at colleges and universities and how we can collaborate throughout the campus;
- NJCASA’s research document on collaboration with early childhood educators, which covers prevention strategies and resources for children at the elementary school level and below.
provide support if someone discloses to you
Words are powerful and can convey a sense of support.. If someone shares their experience with you, try saying, “I believe you,” or ‘It’s not your fault,” or “Thank you for sharing. That takes a lot of courage.” Ask them if they want to be connected to resources that can help. If you work with youth under the age of 18, remember that you are a mandated reporter of child sexual abuse.
* For this resource we are defining educators as those who work in a wide range of settings from daycare settings to preschools to K-12 to higher education settings in a wide range of roles from administrative to managerial to teaching to support staff.
This publication was made possible via a grant from the New Jersey Department of Children and Families’ Division on Women. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Department of Children and Families’ Division on Women.