The war against bullying and cyberbullying is a top priority in Florida schools.
Two years ago, Palm Beach County Schools launched a program to address bullying at its core. The program recently received the stamp of approval from first lady Melania Trump.
It’s called Social Emotional Learning (SEL), a program that places emphasis on communication, empathy, problem solving and handling accusations in seven Palm Beach County Schools.
“Students are no longer attacking each other for not being just like them or attacking themselves for not being just like everybody else,” said Elizabeth Grochan, a West Gate Elementary teacher.
Social emotional learning is a 20-minute requirement for grades K through second, five days a week. Also, a two- to three-day requirement for grades three through five is incorporated into academics.
District administrators, faculty and staff say the curriculum has reduced the bullying rate.
“Within the classroom, I have very few conflicts at all and on the playground and at lunch as well,” said Kaitlyn Kohls, a West Gate Elementary teacher.
In late March, the White House released a statement saying the school’s program supported the First Lady’s "Be Best" initiative. On March 28, Mrs. Trump visited several West Gate classrooms applauding the efforts of both teachers and students.
“Thank you to the teachers and students at West Gate Elementary for such an enjoyable visit,” said First Lady Melania Trump. “I believe it is important for schools to focus on the overall well-being of our youngest citizens, which will help them develop in their earliest years so that they can reach their full potential as our next generation.”