(Palm Beach Gardens, FL) March 25, 2013 – Staff from the Diocese of Palm Beach will be one of the presenters at the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) 2013 Convention and Expo where more than 7,000 educators will be in attendance. The national convention will be held in Houston in early April. The NCEA selected the diocese to share with educators a Bullying Survey conducted at 17 diocesan schools and how the Diocese of Palm Beach is utilizing the results to further educate and develop a more comprehensive bullying prevention and positive response program.
The diocese’s survey is considered unique and one of the first of its kind due to the survey’s comprehensive nature that asks questions about current school environment, bullying and cyberbullying. The survey’s participants included students in fourth through twelfth grade, as well as educators, administrators and parents.
The survey was conducted by the diocese’s Office of Catholic Schools and the Office of Safe Environments with the consultation of a lead researcher from Florida Atlantic University, Sameer Hinduja, Ph.D. Hinduja, an expert in the field, is an Associate Professor of Criminology at the university and the Co-Director of the Cyberbullying Research Center. Hinduja will present the findings to the NCEA audience along with Kit Johansen, administrator of the Office of Safe Environments. Hinduja is the co-author of the book School Climate 2.0.
Conducting the survey has been a learning experience for both diocesan school administrators as well as the children. As a result of the survey, the Diocese of Palm Beach is providing more education and resources to parents, a need the survey revealed.
As for the school students, they are now participating in the next phase – a Stand Up To Bullying Contest and Rally – sponsored by the Office of Safe Environments. As part of the contest, students throughout the diocese are working on creative projects to promote anti-bullying. Some of the projects include colorful posters and artwork, T-shirt designs, videos and public service announcements. The winning entries will be on display at the diocese’s Stand Up To Bullying Rally to be held Tuesday, April 16, at Cardinal Newman High School in West Palm Beach from 7 – 9 p.m. The winning entries will receive a certificate presented by Most Reverend Gerald M. Barbarito, Bishop of the Diocese of Palm Beach. The rally will include raffles, fun activities and refreshments. Students, parents, and faculty from all diocesan schools and parishes, as well as the public, are invited. The Cardinal Newman band will play. There will also be community partners with informational booths at the event.
Diocesan schools already have a policy that bullying is not tolerated, and has set guidelines on how to handle and report bullying. However the Diocese of Palm Beach says it recognizes that bullying and internet behavior is a problem across the country in both public and private schools, and wanted to take this proactive step to conduct the survey to determine if bullying does exist in its schools, and to use the findings to develop a more comprehensive prevention response program. Conducting the survey also demonstrates the Diocese of Palm Beach’s ongoing commitment to teach positive Catholic/Christian values in schools and ensure the safety and well-being of its students.
The Catholic Diocese of Palm Beach encompasses the five counties of Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River and Okeechobee. Comprised of 280,000 Catholics in 53 parishes and missions, the Diocese also serves the faithful community through its 20 schools, which include 13 Catholic Elementary schools, three high schools, two private elementary schools, and two preschools.