• Columbia Middle School has been selected to partner with the ROOTS Program, an anti-bullying, harassment, and intimidation (HIB) program run out of Princeton University, beginning in the 2012-2013 school year. The Roots Program will provide our school with a fully funded intervention that uses social science insights for improving a school’s social climate and reducing HIB behavior. The ROOTS Program focuses on changing student perceptions of acceptable and desirable behavior, through a bottom-up “grassroots” intervention that centers on students’ perceptions of their social worlds.

    The intervention will track our school’s HIB climate using student surveys that are administered to all students three times throughout the school year. Teachers will also be surveyed. The student surveys will ask our children to report on the behaviors they perceive to be frequent and desirable in their friendship groups, so that administrators have a better-informed idea of what students perceive to be part of the “acceptable” or “normal” social experience at the school. All information collected in the program will be confidential; student information will not be reported back to the school on an individual level, and all names will be replaced with random identification numbers.

    Small groups of student leaders (selected based on the results of the student surveys) may also participate in a training program to discourage HIB behavior within their school friendship groups and online, and to role model inclusive, tolerant behavior. The program is based on extensive research and previous piloting of this program in other public middle and high schools.