Blog Entry by Tracey Tsugawa

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Photo of Tracey Tsugawa Tracey Tsugawa is a civil rights investigator for the Human Rights Commission and specializes in issues of bullying and harassment in schools. Tracey is the Chair of the Hazing, Harassment, and Bullying Prevention Advisory Council. She is also a life-long learner and educator and has been engaged in teaching for the last 30 years. Tracey believes that a strong education is the key to a brighter future for all. She loves children and is inspired by their innate abilities to remind and re-teach adults about what is right and important in the world.

If a child is not feeling safe in school then he/she is unable to focus on learning. No child wants to sit in class, walk in the hallways, eat in the cafeteria, run around during recess, or ride the school bus and feel afraid that someone might repeatedly hit them, taunt them, or exclude them. Feeling safe is a basic right – like the right to food, shelter, and clothing – and is a vital part of a healthy, nurturing school environment. We want our students to feel free to be curious and unafraid to explore, understand, and embrace differences among each other and to feel free to learn, actively participate in, and continually expand and their academic studies. These basic building blocks in turn enable our children to take on and conquer all kinds of new challenges, thrive in an ever-changing world, and build a brighter future for all.

Take the time to connect with students on matters that are not related to academics or behavioral problems. We hear from students across the state that it makes a big difference to them when they know there are multiple adults in school with whom they can share caring, nurturing relationships; this helps them feel like they belong and supports their ability to learn. They notice immediately if adults have favorites and treat some students better than others. As adults, we have a responsibility to model the kinds of behaviors we expect from our students. That includes being fair and kind to everyone and taking the time to create a community of caring in our schools.

School safety is a full community responsibility, both within the school and within the larger community surrounding the school. Students and adults alike share the responsibility to create a caring environment in our schools but it must start with the adults. Aside from being parent, the work of all adults in schools (not just teachers and principals) is the second most important responsibility in life. In schools and within communities, adults play a significant, supportive role and can encourage personal growth, academic learning, and a sense of belonging. This in turn, enables students to practice the same kinds of behaviors with each other, further strengthening their sense of safety and the bonds of community in schools.

Page Last Updated on December 4, 2014