Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Toddler Meltdown on the Plane — And Free-Range Help

I am the mother of two very small children. My daughter is almost two and my son is three months old. I consider myself to be a Free-Range parent, at least in philosophy.  Though the freedom and responsibility my husband and I can give our kids at this age isn’t that much, it’s growing by the day.  But I recently had an experience that gave me another perspective on the Free-Range philosophy.
I was traveling solo with my kids while my husband traveled for work. The plan was to have my daughter to sit in a seat by herself and to hold my son in my lap. Emphasis on “plan.”  When we got on the plane, my daughter knew exactly what to do. She walked a few steps ahead of me, carrying her book bag, arriving at our row. However, when the time came for her to sit in the seat next to me (instead of on my lap) she proceeded to flip out.
She threw herself on the floor. She screamed. She exhibited every single behavior that a parent of a toddler dreads. I could feel people glaring at me. I was convinced that I would be thrown off the plane, because I could not get her to sit in the seat on her own.
I was on the verge of tears when I heard a voice behind me asking if I needed help. The woman who asked was a complete stranger, but offered to sit with my daughter at least until she calmed down. Then she reached her arms out to my daughter, who leaped at the chance to tell this woman about her family, read some books, and share a couple of snacks. The flight was a about two hours long, and my daughter sat on the lap of this total stranger for the entirety. She was safe, content and quiet.
Being a parent can be incredibly isolating precisely at a time when we need support the most. Being a parent who is afraid of the world and all the people in it (except for those who have had a background check) makes us even more isolated. The gift that I received on that plane when a stranger offered to sit with my daughter on her lap was the gift of not being alone. It was a simple moment, but it was one that I don’t think happens enough. Free-Range Kids means that parents can trust the rest of the world with their children.
Thank you for the work that you do. You have encouraged me, as a parent of very small children, to realize that I am not alone. Sincerely, Kira Dault

Thursday, March 17, 2011

WFCR: Anti-Bullying Training Program in W. MA (2011-02-17)


(wfcr) - Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley will be in Springfield to get input on the state's new anti-bullying law. It requires all schools enact a bullying prevention plan, although with wide latitude to decide what kind of plan. WFCR's Karen Brown profiles one training program that's been around for years; since before the suicide of a South Hadley student brought the issue into sharp focus. Instead of targeting aggressive behavior, it focuses on the reactions of those on the side lines. © Copyright 2011, wfcr

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Target Transforms Harmdoer!!!!

March 28, 2008

Julio Diaz has a daily routine. Every night, the 31-year-old social worker ends his hour-long subway commute to the Bronx one stop early, just so he can eat at his favorite diner.

But one night last month, as Diaz stepped off the No. 6 train and onto a nearly empty platform, his evening took an unexpected turn.

He was walking toward the stairs when a teenage boy approached and pulled out a knife.

"He wants my money, so I just gave him my wallet and told him, 'Here you go,'" Diaz says.

As the teen began to walk away, Diaz told him, "Hey, wait a minute. You forgot something. If you're going to be robbing people for the rest of the night, you might as well take my coat to keep you warm."

The would-be robber looked at his would-be victim, "like what's going on here?" Diaz says. "He asked me, 'Why are you doing this?'"

Diaz replied: "If you're willing to risk your freedom for a few dollars, then I guess you must really need the money. I mean, all I wanted to do was get dinner and if you really want to join me ... hey, you're more than welcome.

"You know, I just felt maybe he really needs help," Diaz says.

Diaz says he and the teen went into the diner and sat in a booth.

"The manager comes by, the dishwashers come by, the waiters come by to say hi," Diaz says. "The kid was like, 'You know everybody here. Do you own this place?'"

"No, I just eat here a lot," Diaz says he told the teen. "He says, 'But you're even nice to the dishwasher.'"

Diaz replied, "Well, haven't you been taught you should be nice to everybody?"

"Yea, but I didn't think people actually behaved that way," the teen said.

Diaz asked him what he wanted out of life. "He just had almost a sad face," Diaz says.

The teen couldn't answer Diaz — or he didn't want to.

When the bill arrived, Diaz told the teen, "Look, I guess you're going to have to pay for this bill 'cause you have my money and I can't pay for this. So if you give me my wallet back, I'll gladly treat you."

The teen "didn't even think about it" and returned the wallet, Diaz says. "I gave him $20 ... I figure maybe it'll help him. I don't know."

Diaz says he asked for something in return — the teen's knife — "and he gave it to me."

Afterward, when Diaz told his mother what happened, she said, "You're the type of kid that if someone asked you for the time, you gave them your watch."

"I figure, you know, if you treat people right, you can only hope that they treat you right. It's as simple as it gets in this complicated world."

Produced for Morning Edition by Michael Garofalo.
Related NPR Stories

Thursday, October 7, 2010

9 Teens Lost to Suicidein the Month of September!! This has got to stop!!!!!

On September 9, fifteen year-old Billy Lucas of Greensburg, Indiana was found hanging from one of the rafters in his family's barn by his mother. He had been bullied for years based on his perceived sexual orientation. More recently, students referred to him as a "fag," and told him directly that he was a piece of crap and that he didn't deserve to live.

- On September 13, seventeen year-old Cody Barker of Shiocton, Wisconsin took his own life, according to an obituary posted in the Wisconsin Gazette. He was very active in his high school and planned to start a GSA during this academic year. He "cared about making his school a safe place for all students," although it was suggested that school wasn't always a safe place for him. Less than a week later, another student who attended a support group for gay teens with Cody also tried to commit suicide.

- On September 19, thirteen year-old Seth Walsh of Tehachapi, California attempted to hang himself in a tree in his backyard. This came after years of being bullied, particularly after coming out as gay. School administrators at Jacobsen Middle School in his hometown did nothing to stop the attacks, even though an anti-bullying program was in place at the school. Seth ended up on life support for nearly ten days before dying on September 29 of his injuries.

- Earlier this semester, eighteen year-old Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi was filmed by his roommate via hidden camera as he engaged in sexually explicit activity with another young man. The roommate posted the video on the internet, and spread it around using Twitter and other social media. When Tyler discovered the video, which essentially outed him, he drove to a parking lot in New Jersey on September 22, left his car in a parking lot, walked onto the George Washington Bridge and jumped. His last Facebook status update was reportedly, "Jumping off the GW Bridge. Sorry." His body was discovered in the Hudson River on September 30 and finally identified the following day.

- On September 23, thirteen year-old Asher Brown shot himself in the head with a gun that he found hidden away in his parents' bedroom and died. That morning, he had come out as gay to his father, David Truong, who accepted it without issue. While Truong and his wife, Amy, indicated that they had made repeated telephone calls to the school district regarding their son's bullying, the school district denies that anyone ever contacted them about Asher's situation. Asher was ridiculed by the same four students not only because of his sexuality, but because of his small stature, his religion (Buddhism), and his lack of designer clothing. The day before he died, he was reportedly kicked down two flights of stairs by one of the bullies. The D.A. in Houston is presently investigating the situation.

- On September 25, fifteen year-old Harrison Chase Brown of Rand Colorado reportedly died suddenly, according to an obituary in a local newspaper. Friends of Harrison's told blogger Perez Hilton that he killed himself because he had been bullied. No further information has been made available.

- On September 29, openly gay 19 year-old Raymond Chase, a student at Johnson and Wales in Providence, RI, was found dead in his dorm room where he had hung himself. Neither the university nor his family has suggested a motive for his suicide or any additional information.

- Also on September 29, seventeen year-old Felix Sacco, a senior at Saugus High School in Saugus, Massachusetts, jumped from an overpass onto U.S. Route 1 during rush hour traffic. He died later that day of massive head injuries at a hospital in Boston. Friends indicated that there was a history of him being bullied, probably because of his quiet nature and love of music and film. Others indicated that, when he tried to see a guidance counselor early on the morning of his death, he was turned away, and left the building in tears. Both the State Police and the Superintendent of Schools in Boston are investigating.

- On September 30, fourteen year-old Caleb Nolt, a freshman at Fort Wayne High School in Fort Wayne, Indiana, also reportedly committed suicide. Classmates said he was a victim of anti-gay bullying, although additional details remain unknown.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Active Bystander or Unwarranted Intervening

Baby Slapping Aboard Flight Sets Off Debate

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) -- America's latest folk-hero flight attendant may be the one on a Southwest Airlines jet who took a 13-month-old baby from her mother after the woman slapped the crying child for kicking her.
The flight attendant's actions, however, set off an intense debate: When and how should bystanders intervene?
''We live in such a 'mind your own business' and `I'll sue you for getting involved' society that I feel we're afraid to stand up sometimes for the right thing,'' said Jen Reynolds, 38, a stay-at-home mom to 15-year-old and 16-month-old boys in Sandwich, Ill.
''We don't want to be yelled at or told to butt out,'' she said. ''The flight attendant is definitely my hero.''
Parents on both sides of the corporal punishment debate agreed that hitting a baby that young was wrong. But they also empathized with the mother, saying they've been exactly where she found herself on Monday on the Dallas-to-Seattle flight: stressed, and trapped on an airplane, with virtually no way to distract or console a child.
''My biggest question is why didn't anybody else say anything before it got to the point of the baby being slapped,'' Reynolds said.
The federal laws that give crew members broad power to ensure safety can be invoked in situations like the one that unfolded on the flight, said Jerry Sterns, a San Francisco attorney specializing in aviation cases. But those rules don't necessarily protect non-airline employees who want to intervene.
Acts of aggression against children in public places are often witnessed but frequently ignored, said Christin Jamieson, a spokeswoman for Washington state's blue-ribbon, anti-abuse commission called the Council of Children and Families.
''Simply put, most people don't know what to do,'' she said. ''This is one of the most helpless feelings -- both for the child and the witness -- that you can imagine.''
Flight attendant Beverly McCurley told officers that she saw the mother hit the child on the face with her open hand while the father yelled at the mother to stop screaming at the girl. She noted the girl had a black eye. The parents said the bruise was from a dog bite.
McCurley described the mother as agitated. She said the woman also slapped the baby on the legs and told the child to shut up.
The mother later told police she ''popped'' the tired tot when the child kicked her, because ''when she's screaming and she can't hear me say no, that's the only way I can get her to stop.''
The flight attendant said she took the baby and walked to the rear of the plane. She said the father came back, took the child and stood there with her until she fell asleep. The father told McCurley the parents had several arguments about the mother hitting the child.
Details about how McCurley took the child from the parents weren't immediately available.
The father told police the mother would occasionally ''pop'' the child to stop her kicking and screaming, but that the baby had never been hit in the face. The parents weren't identified because no charges were planned.
At the request of the airline, authorities met the parents when the flight landed at the Albuquerque airport, a scheduled stop. Paramedics checked out the child, and the family boarded another flight to continue their trip.
Brad Hawkins, a Southwest spokesman, could not provide details about training given to crew members to deal with such situations. He said they were ''empowered to simply do the right thing and to maintain the security and the comfort of all customers.''
Research on corporal punishment used on children shows there's no value in hitting a baby who's too young to understand right from wrong, said Cara Gardenswartz, a Beverly Hills, Calif., clinical psychologist specializing in early childhood trauma. She is mom to a 7-year-old.
''If I were in that situation, I would have a serious, serious talk with the mother,'' she said.
Gardenswartz added that she hoped McCurley approached the mother with kindness, offering assistance rather than making a demand to turn over the baby.
''That's the best approach to take,'' she said. ''If the mom is so frustrated, she might be relieved to have someone help her.''
Jackie Lantry, a Rehoboth, Mass., mother of four well-traveled children now in their teens and 20s, said she has intervened on behalf of other children in public.
''Once the mother nearly took my head off in the street, and once the mother gratefully accepted my offer of help in an airport. The key is to be sympathetic with `Can I help?' and not be judgmental. Let the mom or parent know that you've been there.''

Friday, August 13, 2010

Active Bystander Speaks Up Against Brutality in Provincetown

On July 4, 2010 Jim Downs was a bystander in an unlawful arrest taking place in Provincetown MA, a place where differences of sexual orientation are celebrated, but as Downs explains, racism still seems alive and well.  Downs tells the story of an abuse of power he witnessed and his frustration in trying to take action in a town where even the local paper seems complicit in the harmdoing.  After finding no other avenue through which to speak his truth Downs turned to the Huffington Post to exhibit his moral courage and make one final attempt to reach the man unlawfully arrested. 

Full Article at

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Many 'fearful of helping children in need'

A recent Study of 2000 adults and kids in the UK reported that, "many people fear helping a child in need in case witnesses think an attempt is being made to abduct the youngster."

44% of men and 28% of women told researchers they would be wary of helping a child for this reason.

79% of adults believe community spirit has weakened since they were children.

47% of the adults questioned said it was unsafe for children to play out without supervision, while one in three parents said they were concerned they would be judged by their neighbours if they let their children play out in this way.

BUT-------81% of the adults questioned believed children playing outside helped to improve community spirit, with 70% saying that it made an area more desirable to live in.

Well adults--guess you will have to start letting your kids play outside if you want to improve your communities!  Come on do your part, liberate your child.  And PLEASE if a child is in need STEP UP!!!  These irrational fears are what is tearing us apart!  Resist the fear and alienation and become an active bystander.

For the full article in the BBC go to:

Training for Trainers Completed in Fitchburg

This week four of our fabulous TAB instructors, Susan Wallace, Keely Malone, Josie Carra, and Jennifer Lerner trained a group of 24 youth and 14 adults to teach TAB at the North Central Charter Essential School.  The program will be rolled out in late September and will be taught to all 7th and 9th graders.  The program will be taught exclusively by this group of youth and adults from the community that were trained Aug 8th, 9th, & 10th. 

The TAB training for trainers was part of the NCCES Ambassador, student leadership development program.  The 24 youth participants working in teams of 2, many with adult co-trainers, spent 12 hours teaching the full Basic TAB curriculum to other participants.  By the close of the close of the training all participants felt confident in their skills to maintain their classrooms, convey the material and have fun.  They are all eager to begin teaching TAB to the students at NCCES.  Many of the youth trainers have asked to be part of the staff training that will be part of NCCES's professional development later this Summer and into the Fall.  Having the entire staff received the Basic TAB curriculum will increase the knowledge of TAB and showcase the language and concepts that will soon be part of the school culture.  In order for youth to take a stand against harmful behaviors adults must first allow interventions, support active bystandership and encourage peers to step up on the behalf of others.  NCCES it a perfect fit for this program and TAB will certainly flourish.

Monday, July 26, 2010

NY Times Op Ed-- How to stop bullying

Local scholars agree, the only way to stop harm-doing in our schools is to go beyond the usual bullying prevention lesson plan and teach our children (and ourselves) how to stop harm-doing in the moment.

Recently Susan Engel and Marlene Sandstrom from  Williams College, co-authored an article criticizing the new MA Anti-Bullying Legislation as encouraging schools to buy "expensive anti-bullying curriculum packages, big glossy binders that look reassuring on the bookshelf and technically place schools closer to compliance with the new laws."

Engel and Sandstrom say that the "only one way to truly combat bullying... to teach children how to be good to one another, how to cooperate, how to defend someone who is being picked on and how to stand up for what is right."

All of these concepts and more are included in the Training Active Bystanders (TAB) curriculum.

For the full article go to:

Full Evaluation Available on Website

Training Active Bystanders is an evidence-based anti-bullying and violence prevention curriculum.  An extensive quantitative and qualitative evaluation showed that this proven program reduced harm-doing* by 20% when compared to the control schools.  A pdf of the complete qualitative and quantitative evaluation can be downloaded at our website (scroll down towards the bottom of the page)

*Harm-doing is defined as bullying; hurtful teasing; excluding or ignoring someone; telling lies, spreading false rumors; threatening; forcing someone to do something; physical violence including hitting, kicking, shoving; stealing or damaging someone's possessions; making negative comments or gestures with a sexual meaning, about someone's sexual orientation, about someone's race, color, religion, nationality, class, ethnicity, or body type.  Harm-doing may also include: name calling, saying hurtful things, touching in a way that is uncomfortable, sending nasty notes, and others) 

Training Active Bystanders

Full Evaluation Available on Website

Training Ac

Training Active Bystanders Coming To Fitchburg and Holyoke


As Training Active Bystanders (TAB)  is celebrating its fifth year in the Athol/Royalston and Ralph C. Mahar Regional School districts TABs implementation will double with the addition of the Holyoke After School CONNECTIONS Program  as well as the North Central Charter Essential School in Fitchburg MA

The Fitchburg NCCES Training for Trainers will begin in early August.

The Holyoke Training for Trainers will begin in early October.  Holyoke area adults interested in volunteering in Holyoke should reserve their slots by emailing for an application.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

TAB and An Act Relative to Bullying in Schools 2010


Recent events in Massachusetts have necessitated a shift in the way schools address the problem of bullying. Bullying is not a new phenomenon, nor is it one central to Massachusetts; in schools around the world, children harass, intimidate, physically harm, and abuse at least some of their peers[i]. In May of 2010, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick signed into law An Act Relative to Bullying in Schools; passage of this legislation was spurred in part by the suicides of Phoebe Prince in South Hadley and Carl Walker-Hoover in Springfield. Schools across the Commonwealth now have the challenging task of reviewing, revising, and implementing an anti-bullying curriculum to meet the unique needs of their schools. Quabbin Mediation has created Training Active Bystanders (TAB), a program with a written curriculum and applied using a training for trainers model, which has already proven effective in Western Massachusetts schools. The goal of TAB is transformation of the school community to a norm in which harm doing is not acceptable, resulting in a safe educational environment where all children can learn.

Implemented in North Quabbin middle and high schools for four years, TAB’s evaluation showed a significant reduction in violence, 20% compared to the control schools. Whereas other programs place the responsibility for implementation and change on a limited number of people, TAB maintains that every member of a school community has a responsibility for changing school climate. Such a change requires a process and structure that involve more than simple skill-building programs like those widely available. Quabbin Mediation recommends further implementation and evaluation of TAB in Massachusetts middle and high schools in varying demographics.

Bullying has been a problem in all schools for many, many years. The word bully is limited and vague. Many students in middle and high school believe bullying only happens in elementary school. The language must be broadened. In TAB, we refer to “harm doing” which is defined as hurtful teasing; excluding, or ignoring someone; telling lies, spreading false rumors; threatening; forcing someone to do something; physical violence including hitting, kicking, shoving; stealing or damaging someone’s possessions; making negative comments or gestures with a sexual meaning, about someone’s sexual orientation, about someone’s race, color, religion, nationality, class, ethnicity, or body type. Harm doing in schools extends beyond child-on-child bullying to mistreatment by adults of students and vice-versa.

Conflict, a natural consequence of differences, can descend into meanness and cruelty. But humans also have an enormous capacity for kindness and helping behavior. TAB is not a “fix” for bullying, nor is it a solely skill-based program. TAB is a process that recognizes connection, empowers bystanders to overcome inhibitors to action, and to step forward when help is needed.  

A wide variety of programs offer violence prevention or anti-bullying curricula. Some of these are “proven” or “science-based” programs. Often, the burden of implementation falls on classroom teachers who already have heavy teaching responsibilities. This results in programs losing fidelity over time or never actually being implemented at all. The “out-of-the-box” programs may not fit the needs of particular schools and are not flexible enough to be modified to do so. Some programs address only the victim or bully, others are punishment based, and thus are not capable of effecting long-term, deep change. Schools around the state have anti-bullying or anti-violence programming that fits their needs but have not had the resources to engage in the comprehensive evaluations required to be certified as “proven” or “science-based” programs by the federal government. Like TAB, these programs require a closer examination as to their effectiveness.

This is a recommendation to increase TAB’s presence in Massachusetts’ schools. TAB’s goal is the evolution of the school community toward a norm in which harm doing is not acceptable, appropriately responds to the needs of all students and creates a safe educational environment where children can learn. The objectives are to institute certain norms: responsibility to each other and the community, inclusive caring, empathy, and moral courage.

            TAB Background
Quabbin Mediation created TAB in partnership with Ervin Staub, Ph.D., founding director of the doctoral concentration in Peace and Violence Prevention and author of the book, The Psychology of Good and Evil: Why Children, Adults, and Groups Help and Harm Others. Dr. Staub’s research and research of others on helping and harming behavior everywhere from local schools to countries suffering genocide, is the basis of TAB. The program’s development still involves the North Quabbin’s two police departments, school principals, superintendents and guidance, children’s protective services (DCF and DYS) and local youth agencies, teenagers and teachers. Today, TAB is popular and successful because it involves the whole student body, it is preventive rather than reactive, and it improves the schools and the larger community which have a sense of ownership in it.

Community Ownership
The entire community is responsible: school boards, school administrators, teachers and all other school staff, students, community members (civic organizations, houses of worship, local police, state and local agencies, parents, business members, court personnel, community mediators, etc.). Everyone must be trained in recognizing targeting behavior and harm doing and strategies for interrupting it so all youth and all adults in a school are cognizant of the language, concepts, and skills of active bystandership.

TAB Content: Broadening Definitions
TAB defines the roles of individuals in the school community as follows:  
·      Broaden the language from “bullying” to harm doing (hurtful teasing; excluding, or ignoring someone; telling lies, spreading false rumors; threatening; forcing someone to do something; physical violence including hitting, kicking, shoving; stealing or damaging someone’s possessions; making negative comments or gestures with a sexual meaning, about someone’s sexual orientation, about someone’s race, color, religion, nationality, class, etc.).
·      Bystanders have a powerful role to play in taking action to change the norms. Recognize that none of the roles of bystander, target, and harm doer are static: we are all of these.
·      There are situations requiring help when there is not a clear harm doer. In TAB, a harming situation students often raise that requires action is the problem of a fellow student abusing drugs or alcohol.

TAB Content: Roles
TAB explains three primary roles: target, bystander, and harm doer. The concepts of target, harm doer, and bystander apply to everyone, not just targets or harm doers (victims or offenders, bullies, perpetrators, etc.), because each of us has had the experience of being a bystander, of having needed help, and of doing harm (even if unintentionally). TAB deliberately avoids the word “bully” because 1) it implies a static, unchangeable behavior, 2) many middle and high school students perceive bullying as solely an elementary school problem, and 3) TAB is applicable to many other circumstances beyond bullying that do not involve deliberate harm but do require helpful behavior.
Ø    Harm doer--one who engages in harm doing: hurtful teasing; excluding or ignoring someone; telling lies, spreading false rumors; threatening; forcing someone to do something; physical violence including hitting, kicking, shoving; stealing or damaging someone’s possessions; making negative comments or gestures with a sexual meaning, about someone’s sexual orientation, about someone’s race, color, religion, nationality, class, etc.
Ø    Target—the recipient of harm.
Ø    Bystander – a witness, someone who is in a position to know what is happening and is in a position to act. Active Bystander – a bystander who acts to stop harm rather than ignoring, watching passively, or joining in.

            TAB Content: Concepts
We stress the need for safety and for judging a situation to make sure the active bystander is not harmed. Other concepts addressed in TAB include: the evolution of helpful and harmful behavior and its effect on individuals and the community, the responsibility we all have for creating a safe environment, and moral courage, which is doing what you believe is right even when acting contrary to the values, beliefs or expectations of people around you. Promoters of active bystandership include empathy, responsibility for others, inclusive caring, and competency to help. Inhibitors of active bystandership are pluralistic ignorance, diffusion of responsibility, ambiguity of the need for help, danger or cost of helping, and fear of disapproval. (This language is part of the curriculum and is defined during the lessons.)

Program implementation
Beginning in middle school with the basic curriculum and continuing into high school with the two advanced levels, TAB can be taught in nearly any class. In the North Quabbin, the basic is taught in health, but all the lessons could fit the educational frameworks for social studies, civics, English, history, and so on. The curriculum consists of small and large group discussions, role playing, activities and games to illuminate concepts, and entries in journals that are collected at the end of each lesson.

To minimize the burden of implementation, the program’s work load is spread out among many. We engage members of the larger community in the program delivery and we engage students as co-trainers with the adults using a “peer educator” model. (Note that the first adult TAB trainers in the North Quabbin included police officers, school board members, and staff of local youth agencies. All TAB adults MUST be CORIed.) The model in which youth and adults work in pairs as a co-equal team is unique. Student co-teaching with an adult builds strong relationships among youth and between youth and community adults. The hands-on skills student trainers learn working and teaching shoulder to shoulder with the community adults are invaluable in the world outside school, and develop the potential for these youth to be teachers and leaders. These experiences build self-confidence and self-esteem among the youth.

Scheduling is done by a community-based TAB program coordinator (which in Quabbin Mediation’s case is one of the state’s 16 local court-approved mediation programs, most of which implement peer mediation programs in the schools) with help from guidance. Such supervision of a professionally trained team of trainers builds a strong basis for consistent program implementation across the state.

Use of a “Training for Trainers” model means that trainers from the particular community have a thorough grasp of the material and can competently translate it for those within that community. This ensures cultural competency and that a model is used that all participants can relate to, relieving the problem that some programs work well in some communities but do not resonate with others. The curriculum maximizes personalization by the trainers who are part of the community, and program concepts, content, and skills are generalizable across cultures so it can easily be replicated in cities, for younger people and adults, in community and institutional settings.

Fidelity and Quality Control
The program must be implemented with fidelity within and among schools over time. To guarantee quality control, there are rigorous standards applied at each step.
The 18-hour Training for Trainers is taught by licensed TAB Instructors who teach 18-24 trainees from a school district/community how to teach the 6-hour basic curriculum. A trainee group is usually a ratio of two students per adult. TAB trainees must teach the basic curriculum at least once under Instructor mentorship and are evaluated by the Instructor using the trainer assessment tool. Those with positive evaluations are certified as TAB Trainers for one year, only in their particular school.
To maintain certification, the school’s TAB Trainers must attend an annual refresher. Here they are also instructed in teaching the progressively higher levels of advanced TAB. Instructors engage in a more lengthy and rigorous training, mentoring and regular evaluation process in order to obtain and maintain licensure.
Each TAB site has a TAB Coordinator (who is an experienced TAB Trainer or Instructor), employed by Quabbin Mediation. The Coordinator, using the fidelity tool, randomly sits in on their school’s TAB lessons to verify they are taught consistently at that site and across all sites. Coordinators are supervised by Quabbin Mediation and all meet quarterly in a Coordinators’ Council.

Policy and Program development
1.     Schools create internal policies and procedures to sustain the change in social norms and that support the active bystander. For example, currently many schools have policies which penalize students who interrupt harm doing; instead policies must protect and encourage active bystanders. Similarly, internal school policies must weigh in on the side of supporting targets.
2.     Involve the entire community in program development both within the school and within the larger community; this generates broader commitment to change over the long term.
3.     Make certain the program extends to new forms of communication. For example, one student explained in her TAB journal how she interrupted harm being done to another student via the internet using skills she had learned through the program.

The use of volunteers to teach TAB minimizes the long-term costs of the program and allows it to be carried out continually into the future. Working with schools to establish a TAB program involves:
·      Consultations with the school to determine the capacity and commitment to long-term implementation,
·      Developing a structure that works for the school,
·      Providing application and screening materials for selecting trainers,
·      Training and certification of 18-24 students and community adults as trainers,
·      Ongoing support and supervision to ensure efficient scheduling of trainers and classroom instruction, program fidelity and quality control.
·      Trainers are certified to teach TAB and use the curriculum for one year in their school.
·      To maintain certification, trainers must attend yearly trainer refreshers in which they also are trained to teach progressively higher levels of the curriculum.

To date, 3,555 students and 300 adults have been taught the curriculum by 104 student and adult trainers. Results of the TAB qualitative and quantitative evaluation showed significant improvements in overall school climate.

Students from four school systems participated in the Quantitative Evaluation: the two North Quabbin school districts were matched demographically with two control schools.  Students completed questionnaires three times: before lessons, just after lessons had finished, and five months afterward.

Ø    Harm doing, as reported by targets, went down significantly in the implementation schools, 20% compared to the control schools. 
Ø    Harm doing reported by witnesses went down 10% in the implementation schools compared to 1% in the control schools.[ii]
Ø    Dropout rates in Mahar between the 06-07 and the 07-08 school year, after implementation of TAB, fell 43%.[iii]

According to the Qualitative Evaluation by Deborah Letit Habib, Ed.D., “Leadership, self-esteem and courage increase among youth trainers as a result of teaching the curriculum to peers. Youth trainers exhibit behavior shifts, demonstrating active bystandership or utilizing curriculum language and techniques in peer and family contexts. Students who receive TAB curriculum demonstrate an ability to use new terminology and identify actions they can take as an active bystander. The majority of journal responses conveys an increased awareness and recognition of harm-doing and bystandership in school, peer and community settings and implies development of skills to take action in response to harm doing.” 

Some students’ journal entries are surprisingly astute and sophisticated. One 8th grader wrote in his journal, “If I see a situation that I think needs help, I will be an active bystander and do something or say something instead of giving in to pluralistic ignorance” Another 8th Grader wrote, “I can use what I learned in TAB to help intervene in a situation. I learned how to diffuse a problem quickly and safely. I am now more inclined to act in a situation where someone is being harmed.” A 10th grader wrote in his journal, “I am no longer a passive bystander. People say power comes in numbers but bigger power can come from one person. It only takes one person to create a chain of endless caring that is powerful in many ways.”  

The mother of an at-risk youth who is a TAB trainer said, “It’s unusual for adults and teens to work together as equals for the same purpose. I see a very positive effect on my son because of the mutual respect among trainers who are adults and teens.”

A High School Principal said, “The program is designed to stop harm doing in the sense that a lot of times we will never hear or see it.  The incidents that we know about, we can fix. This program helps those kids who would have never come forward to say ‘I need your help’”
A Superintendent said, “It aligns with every school’s social and civic expectations of teaching the whole community to be active, whether it’s a participant in social change within a culture, or in becoming a change agent.”     

According to the evaluators’ recommendations, “It appeared that the program reduced harm doing.  Replicating the program may reduce harm doing in other schools. Continuing its implementation may maintain or further decrease levels in the schools in which it is already implemented.”

A Health Teacher interviewed for the evaluation said, “I think that I would say whole-heartedly [to another district] that this is something that they should get involved with and it’s getting better all the time. It cannot hurt; it can only help.” [iv]

Research supports Training Active Bystanders as a strategy to reduce anti-social behavior: hostility, aggression, and violence and to increase pro-social skills/knowledge, attitudes and behaviors. In schools around the world, children harass, intimidate, physically harm, and abuse at least some of their peers.[v], [vi], [vii], [viii] ,[ix]. The consequences of harm doing may be withdrawal, depression, or aggression. Boys who are aggressive toward their peers are likely to become more aggressive over time, and are more likely to get involved with criminal activities as they get older.[x]

The basis of TAB is the power of bystanders. Children who are bystanders are often passive.[xi] Passivity in the face of harmful actions by others encourages harm doers and teaches children that people are not to be trusted, that other people can be cruel and uncaring, that the world is dangerous, and that school is not a positive place.[xii] Children who engage in some helpful action feel more positive about school. People who engage in positive, helpful actions, tend to become even more helpful over time. Analysis of the actions of “rescuers” of people during the Nazi Holocaust shows an evolution of helpfulness. Active bystandership can lead to more positive interactions among children, an improved classroom atmosphere, improved learning, and can be an important contributor to children’s positive socialization.[xiii]

The TAB curriculum draws on research findings on psychological processes that inhibit bystander action, among them are pluralistic ignorance, diffusion of responsibility, ambiguity of the need for help, danger of retribution, and fear of disapproval.[xiv], [xv] Empathy, responsibility for others, inclusive caring, courage, and competency to help all promote active bystandership. [xvi], [xvii], [xviii]  Older students teaching younger ones results in more generous, helpful behavior.[xix]

The TAB “Train the Trainers” model reduces risk factors and enhances protective factors for the youth trainers, and for their fellow students to whom they teach TAB.[xx] The adult/student training-pairs model develops mentoring relationships which promote resiliency for youth exposed to negative factors. [xxi], [xxii]  The effectiveness of mentoring in preventing gang involvement, educational failure, delinquency, and dropping out of school, was demonstrated by research reported in several US Department of Justice bulletins. [xxiii]


[i] Staub, E. (2003).  The psychology of good and evil: Why children, adults and groups help and   harm others.  New York: Cambridge University Press.
[ii] Alexandra Gubin, Ph.D., (December, 2007). Training Active Bystanders (TAB) Quantitative Program Evaluation, Sun Statistical and Research Consulting, Belmont, MA,
[iii] Courville, C., Producer, (June 2008). Training Active Bystanders (Reza Namin, R.C. Mahar Superintendent), Athol Orange Community Television.
[iv]  Deborah L. Habib, Ed.D., (December 2007). Stories of Implementation: A Report on the Findings of Qualitative Research, Orange, MA.
[v] Fried, S. & Fried, D. (1996).  Bullies and victims: helping your child survive the schoolyard battlefield.  New York: M. Evans and Company, Inc.
[vi] Hazler, R., Carney, J., Green, S., Powell, R. and Jolly, L.  (1997). Areas of expert agreement on identification of school bullies and victims.  School Psychology International, 18, 5-14.
[vii] Olweus, D.(1993).Bullying at school: What we know and what we can do. Oxford: Blackwell.
[viii] Rigby, K. (1996).  Bulling in schools and what to do about it.  Melbourne: The Austrialiana Council for Educational Research LTD.
[ix] Staub, 2003
[x] Coie, J. D. and Dodge, K. A.  (1997).  Aggression and antisocial behavior.  Handbook of Child Psychology, fifth edition.  William Damon, (ed.)  Vol. 3.  Social, Emotional, and Personality Development.  Nancy Eisenberg, Vol. (ed.)  New York:  John Wiley and Sons.
[xi] Staub, 2003.
[xii] Staub, E.  (1989). The roots of evil:  The origins of genocide and other group violence.  New York:  Cambridge University Press.
[xiii] Staub, E., (1989).  Political Psychology, 10, 39-53.
[xiv] Latane, B., & Darley, J.  (1970).  The unresponsive bystander:  Why doesn't he help?  New York:  Appleton-Crofts.
[xv] Staub, E. (1978).  Predicting prosocial behavior.  In L. Pervin & M. Lewis (Eds.) Perspectives in international psychology.  New York:  Plenum Press.
[xvi] Staub, (2003).
[xvii] Grusec, J. E. (1981).  Socialization processes and the development of altruism.  In J. P. Rushton, & R. M. Sorrentino (Eds.), Altruism and helping behavior.  Hillsdale, NJ:  Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
[xviii] Eisenberg, N. and Fabes, R. A.  (1998).  Prosoical development.  In W. Damon (Ed.), Handbook of Child Psychology, Fifth Edition Vol.3: N. Eisenberg (ed.). Social, Emotional, and Personality Development.
[xix] Staub, 2003. 
[xx] Hawkins and Catalano, (1992). Communities That Care, John Wiley and Sons.
[xxi] Werner, E.E.  (1987).  Vulnerability and resiliency in children at risk for delinquency.  In J.D. Burchard & S.N. Burchard (Eds.), Primary prevention of psychopathology, 10, Prevention of delinquent behavior (pp. 16-43).  Newbury Park, CA:  Sage.
[xxii] Rak, C. and Patterson, C., (1996). Journal of Counseling and Development.
[xxiii] Grossman, J.B. and Garry, E., (1997) Mentoring-A Proven Delinquency Prevention Strategy,  and  Novotney, L., Mertinko, E., Lange, J. and Baker, T.K., (2000). Juvenile Mentoring Program: A Progress Review, US DOJ, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.