DeMonte Smith is a student at Visitation Valley Middle School in San Francisco, where his small stature and voice were a magnet for bullies. Refusing to be intimidated, DeMonte joined the Safe School Ambassadors Program, to help make Visitation Valley free from bullying and harassment.
Safe School Ambassadors empowers leaders from the diverse groups and cliques on campus and equips them with nonviolent communication and intervention skills to stop bullying and violence among their peers. "The Safe School Ambassadors is basically getting together a group of kids who have social influence," DeMonte says. "And we try to teach them conflict mediation skills, how to recognize different types of mistreatment such as bullying, put-downs, exclusion."
As a Safe School Ambassador, DeMonte teaches other students how to intervene before incidents occur. It's a big difference from the top-down, punitive disciplinary approach to school climate that many students are used to.
"At this age, kids don't really listen to adults," he says. "They listen more to their peers. It's more important what their peers say and what their peers think. So if you have someone that's socially influential in the school and they're saying “This is wrong, this is bad, we shouldn't do this” other kids are gonna listen to them."
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