Students from Central Middle School, Crossroads Academy, and University Academy gathered Friday morning to discuss bullying and violence prevention at the second annual Green Dot Summit.
Green Dot is a program sponsored by the Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault (MOCSA). The program focuses on preventing violence in schools by engaging students and empowering them to speak out against bullying and violence. Green Dot is a metro-wide initiative, with a service area that includes Jackson, Cass, Clay, and Platte counties in Missouri and Johnson and Wyandotte counties in Kansas.
Green Dot begins with outreach. Prevention specialists with MOCSA spend much of their time getting to know students and staff so they can build relationships and foster trust. Education is another important component-cultivating awareness about issues like gender stereotypes and sexual harassment.
Training is a multi-phase process. Student leaders are selected by teachers from the larger student body population to go through a more involved one-day training before a shorter version is introduced to the rest of the school. Student leaders are chosen for their ability to lead and influence others, and this allows other students to more readily adopt the program.
“I didn’t really realize that I had eyes on me, or people paying attention to me,” said Lynnica Harley, in regards to being selected as a student leader at Central Middle School. “It made me want to better myself because I have people following me and I don’t want to lead them down the wrong path.”
Students have seen noticeable changes in their school environment since the implementation of the Green Dot program.
“Before Green Dot started, it was a lot of chaos, fights, and problems,” said Allen Brenson, a student leader at Central Middle School. “Ever since we got Green Dot, the problems of fighting, even people just being mad at each other or arguing or whatever, the rate of that has went down.”
School staff are also enthusiastic about Green Dot. F. Lynette Walker, a seventh-grade counselor at Central Middle School, spoke highly of the program and its effect on students. In the past three years Central has been participating in the program, Walker has noticed students are more likely to intervene or reach out to staff when they encounter bullying and fighting. She hopes students will maintain those skills as they move into high school.
This desire is shared by students, who recognize the importance of addressing conflict into high school and throughout life. “Green Dot teaches you how to be a leader and basically prepares you for whatever drama comes your way, or whatever disturbance is there,” said Harley.
For more information about UMKC’s Green Dot program, stop by room 208A in Haag Hall, or check out info.umkc.edu/greendot.