Across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania school leadership face various challenges to strategically plan for school climate improvement. Following wide-scale implementation of comprehensive approaches, schools continue to articulate the need to "do something" to prevent and respond to bullying. The STAR document contains four levels of bullying prevention practices and provides school building level leadership with a helpful place to start. The resource was given the title "STAR" based on the concept that schools appreciate guidance on how to move from doing what's expected (One STAR Level) to doing what will have the greatest impact on creating a safe and respectful learning environment (Four STAR Level).
The STAR document was developed by a team of professionals trained in research-based bullying prevention approaches. Their expertise includes the study of all facets of bullying prevention, implementation of research-based bullying prevention programs, development of supportive resources and associated research projects.
The STAR document is intended to be utilized as a self-assessment tool for schools, families and community partners to examine how they have integrated their bullying prevention efforts into improving their school climate. This tool was created specific to Pennsylvania. Level One (1 STAR) addresses the requirements of the 2008 bullying prevention state legislation, which amended the Pennsylvania School Code. Levels Two, Three and Four are relevant to all states/schools/communities and can be utilized to identify strengths, weaknesses and improvement strategies.
Current bullying prevention research continues to support the 10 best practices in bullying prevention listed on the Human Resources and Services Administration (HRSA )"Best Practices in Bullying Prevention and Intervention" fact sheet. The following best practices are addressed in each of the STAR levels:
- Focus on the social environment of the school.
- Assess bullying at your school.
- Garner staff and parent support for bullying prevention.
- Form a group to coordinate the school's bullying prevention activities.
- Train your staff in bullying prevention.
- Establish and enforce school rules and policies related to bullying.
- Increase adult supervision in hot spots where bullying occurs.
- Intervene consistently and appropriately in bullying situations.
- Focus some class time on bullying prevention.
Continue these efforts over time.