How area school districts provide social-emotional skills, violence prevention

October 29, 2021

Terry DeMio, Cincinnati Enquirer

The Enquirer asked area school district leaders how their students get violence prevention and social-emotional education.

Here's who responded, and a summary of each district's offerings:

  • Loveland City Schools – State-required violence prevention education is taught. In Ohio, students in grades seven-12 are provided age-appropriate instruction in dating violence prevention education, including instruction in recognizing dating violence warning signs and characteristics of healthy relationships. Health teachers to the instruction. The instruction continued through the pandemic, said Andrea Conner, assistant superintendent of teaching and learning.
  • Milford Schools – State-required violence prevention education is taught as part of the required health curriculum as prescribed by the Ohio Department of Education. Health teachers use the state's identified course framework to plan, implement and assess this topic. It's a full unit with multiple classes. The instruction continued through the pandemic.
  • Finneytown Schools – The Council on Child Abuse comes to schools to provide presentations annually for students in grades kindergarten-eight.  Violence prevention is also covered in ninth-grade health class.The council's trainers discuss bullying and violence in the home. They present to every class and interview students one-on-one who choose to report an issue related to the topic.  Students are referred to a school counselor for follow-up. The instruction was taught virtually for children in grades two-eight during the pandemic.
  • Wyoming City Schools – Violence prevention and social-emotional learning topics are covered in health classes and through grade-level work in the counseling department. Through the seventh and eighth grades, teachers cover bullying prevention, awareness and avenues for help. The district partners with Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center on a program called Surviving the Teens, a five-day workshop for eighth-graders.  At the high school level, teachers cover family, relations, and work violence. They discuss healthy and abusive relationships, consent, risks of staying in an abusive relationship and why some stay. The focus is on help and how to get help. The district is beginning a new social-emotional learning program at the middle school (grades 5-8) called Lion's Quest.
  • Cincinnati Public Schools –The CPS health curriculum provided by Goodheart-Willcox, covers the state mandate to educate students about violence prevention, said spokesperson Frances Russ. The senior high health course covers healthy relationships, sexual harassment, rape, dealing with conflict, violence and abuse, human trafficking, unwanted sexual activity, sex trafficking and sexual abuse. It typically takes two- to three weeks to cover the material. Teachers may invite an organization to provide additional education. The district also hosts an annual health fair for high school students and invites community partners, such as Women Helping Women, to the event.  During the pandemic, the curriculum was taught and the health fair was offered online.
  • Oak Hills Local Schools – The district partners with Cincinnati Children’s to teach its Adapt for Life curriculum in all nine schools, K-12. Not  solely focused on violence prevention, it includes instruction and support that lend themselves to violence prevention, such as reducing feelings of hopelessness, aggression and a sense of isolation; identifying and responding to mental health problems when symptoms first become evident; increasing empathy; fostering positive classroom behaviors to reduce student conduct problems and emotional distress, school officials said. The training was continued through the pandemic. High school students also are required to take a health course that includes a mental-health unit dealing with handling stress and emotions such as anger and alienation. 
  • Boone County Schools – All of the schools follow Kentucky Academic Standards for Health Education, said Jenny Watson, assistant superintendent of Learning Support Services. Some examples of the standards: Promote healthy behaviors that reduce the risk of disease and violence; promote positive emotional health messages; teach how power and control differences in relationships can contribute to aggression and violence; describe how prejudice, discrimination and bias can lead to violence; explain that self-directed violence is the result of the accumulation of multiple problems. Teachers implement social-emotional learning. Some elementary schools have specific programs to support the work, but most embed it through their instruction and in building and maintaining relationships between students and adults.
  • Erlanger/Elsmere Independent Schools –The Erlanger-Elsmere Schools have been implementing social-emotional learning and trauma-informed care practices for many years, said Superintendent Chad Molley. Implementing the Character Effect at Dorothy Howell Elementary is a piece of the plan as is a social-emotional learning period for middle and high school students. The district uses Positive Behavior Supports and Interventions, a school safety and behavior program districtwide, completed professional learning with staff on trauma-informed care and adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), and more. Molley noted that the Kentucky Legislature's School Safety and Resiliency Act required a trauma-informed approach in schools by July 1, 2021, but Erlanger/Elsmere district was ahead of the mandate.


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