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Bullying prevention and awareness in DCSD

As we observe National Bullying Prevention and Awareness Month in October, we highlight the work of Douglas County School District’s (DCSD) Prevention and School Culture Departments’ Team U.P. staff, who partner with our schools to build a positive and connected culture with the goal of preventing bullying, as well as acts of school violence, substance abuse and suicide from materializing.

Left: A mosaic of names written by students line the front window of Chaparral High School underneath the question, "who is your trusted adult?" Chaparral and many other DCSD schools utilize Sources of Strength as a wellness and prevention tool.

CASTLE ROCK— Bullying affects students no matter the race, gender, age or socioeconomic status. One in four kids nationally is bullied and an increasing number of teens are being bullied online.

Meanwhile, students who are bullied can show decreases in academic performance, with some students possibly experiencing suicidal thoughts. Additionally, those who bully may have lasting problems.

Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time.

As we observe National Bullying Prevention and Awareness Month in October, we highlight the work of Douglas County School District’s (DCSD) Prevention and School Culture Departments’ Team U.P. staff, who partner with our schools to build a positive and connected culture with the goal of preventing bullying, as well as acts of school violence, substance abuse and suicide from materializing.

10 Myths About Bullying

  1. Bullying is the same thing as conflict

  2. Most bullying is physical (Involves hitting, shoving, kicking)

  3. Bullying isn’t serious. It’s just a matter of “kids being kids”

  4. Bullying doesn’t happen at my child’s school

  5. Bullying is mostly a problem in urban schools

  6. Bullying is more likely to happen on the bus than at school

  7. Children and youth who are bullied will almost always tell an adult

  8. Children and youth who bully are mostly loners with few social skills

  9. Bullied kids need to learn how to deal with bullying on their own

  10. Most children and youth who observe bullying don’t want to get involved

Learn more: 

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services:

One of the goals of Team U.P.— which stands for Universal Prevention— is to make sure DCSD students can recognize if they need help or if a friend needs help and where they can go to get it in any situation, bullying or otherwise.

A common challenge for students is distinguishing between typical youth adversity (not making a team, losing a pet, peer conflict, etc.) and a more serious problem, such as depression, online bullying or substance abuse. Recognizing when it is appropriate to seek help is challenging for youth without knowing the difference between typical bumps-in-the-road and significant danger.  Prevention and School Culture Department Coordinator, Staci McCormack, calls youth not seeking help and/or not reporting significant concerns as a result of unhealthy cultural norms  “Codes of Silence,” which can put youth in harm’s way. McCormack and her team are working to eliminate Codes of Silence as they partner with DCSD schools.

“At the recent Douglas County Youth Congress event, I worked with a group of DCSD high school students who said ‘our problem is we’re not really sure when we need help,’ ” McCormack said. “They felt they didn’t understand that being a teenager can present small challenges even on a daily basis. They were not sure that being truly depressed for days and feeling hopeless is not just a common teenager feeling. They asked ‘is that normal? Or is that not?’”

To combat this, McCormack and Team U.P. staff provide a menu of options to schools and families, all of which are vetted through the National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices, designed to build community, emotional wellness & connection and empowerment in our students. Some of these menu options include Sources of Strength, overnight retreats, Botvin Life Skills programs for all ages and a middle school transition program called Success in the Middle.  

“Mental health begins with prevention,” McCormack said. “As we build resilient and informed students, we can help prevent bullying, violence, substance abuse and suicide.”

Did You Know? It’s required by law that ALL Colorado schools have an anti-bullying program

Colorado House Bill 11-1254 mandates Colorado school districts maintain four anti-bullying practices:

  1. Designation of an adult anti-bullying team in the building working on positive culture and connectedness.
  2. Character building activities.
  3. Administration of a student survey so students can voice their impressions of the severity of bullying in their school.
  4. Appropriate disciplinary consequences for students who bully, as well as those who take retaliatory action against someone who reports in good faith.

To guide schools in meeting these requirements, Team U.P. provides a Student Wellness and Prevention Framework.  This Framework has been approved by DCSD Legal Council as a way to show evidence of a school being in compliance with the mandates in the law.  The ultimate goal of the Framework is to help build students’ tools in recognizing when they need help and where to get help.  

Every month, as part of the Framework, there is new content that schools can use to communicate and implement with students, staff and parents. Schools may choose how this content is implemented, whether that’s via daily announcements, a formally themed week, showing videos in homeroom or other activities.

Parents can also access the framework to access handouts, watch videos or engage in activities at home with their children.

McCormack, who is in her eighteenth year with DCSD, says that the Framework and the other options available to schools have proved to be effective per years of impact data reviewed.

“Impact data indicates, schools using Prevention and School Culture menu options see significant impact in the reduction of bullying, substance abuse, school violence and suicide” she said.

What to do if and when bullying occurs in my school

Q: When a child or teen feels like they are being bullied or harassed, who should they go to?

A: “Their trusted adult or a connector,” McCormack says. “Connectors are peers and adults who may not be mental health specialists or equipped to handle a particular situation, but can connect students to those who are.”


Q: If a child witnesses bullying or harassment, or picks up on signs that there might be an issue with one of their peers, what should they do?

A: “Again, their trusted adult or connector,” McCormack says. “They can also anonymously report via Text-a-Tip or Safe2Tell. As part of the Framework, we are training students to build a toolbox of resources and ways to report. Every month kids are learning different ways to seek help.”

Parents: Click here for more information on how to handle bullying if and when it occurs


September 29, 2016 | By CSilberman | Category: Prevention and School Culture, Mental Health Intervention

District News

The Douglas County School District Board of Education welcomes Dr. Thomas S. Tucker into the role of Superintendent of Douglas County School District. Dr. Tucker officially leads the 68,000 student district as of July 1, 2018.


Nearly 1,500 Colorado students applied for the prestigious Boettcher Foundation Scholarship this year, with 42 being named recipients. Of those, the Douglas County School District (DCSD) is proudly home to four recipients.


When it comes to mental health services, communities traditionally focus on supporting kids as needs arise. This work is crucial for the safety of our students. Equally important, though, is prevention-based programming that can help, early on, prevent the social-emotional challenges our kids may be experiencing from escalating.