New resource available to address bullying issues

Help kids become more resilient to issues of bullying through a new resource called Be SAFE.

Issues related to bullying, bias and harassment continue to be of great concern to many parents, educators, youth and family workers and others who work with and care about young people in communities. While there are several resources available for use in schools to address these issues, very few focus on addressing issues of bullying in out-of-school settings.

To respond to these important issues, Michigan State University Extension announces the release of a new resource called Be SAFE: Safe, Affirming and Fair Environments. Designed for use in out-of-school settings (such as 4-H, Boys and Girls Clubs, Scouts and afterschool programs), Be SAFE helps young people ages 11 to 14 and adults that work in partnership to create environments that are physically and emotionally safe. It draws from extensive research from a variety of key disciplines – as well as evidence-based bullying prevention programs. Be SAFE includes more than 30 engaging activities that adults (or older teens) can use with youth.

The overall goals of Be SAFE are to:

- Promote social and emotional learning and development.

- Address and reduce bullying.

- Prevent bullying behaviors by tapping the wisdom and assets of youth and adults.

- Develop positive relationships with peers and adults.

While the materials are divided into 10 key focus areas, each of the sections is part of a larger process that makes up the whole of Be SAFE. This overall learning process and design incorporates practices recommended by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) for promoting personal and social skill development in adolescents. CASEL has found that effective out-of-school time programs include components that are sequenced, active, focused and explicit.

The learning journey of Be SAFE includes the following 10 focus areas:

1.         Creating a SAFE space

2.         Exploring bullying

3.         Addressing cyber bullying and cyber safety

4.         Understanding differences

5.         Nurturing our emotional intelligence

6.         Developing our social intelligence

7.         Moving from bystanders to allies

8.         Keeping ourselves safe

9.         Becoming critical consumers of media

10.       Reflecting on our Be SAFE experiences

Grounded in research on positive youth development, Be SAFE taps the wisdom and strengths of young people and helps to foster resiliency in the face of challenging situations such as bullying, bias and harassment. When young people have strong connections and relationships with adults and peers, they are more resilient. In addition, research shows that young people benefit from time spent in positive and safe settings with adults and peers. Be SAFE is an important tool that can be used by adults – working in partnership with youth – to create these safe, affirming and fair environments. You can download a free PDF of the Introduction section of Be SAFE or order a copy of the 224 page guide at the MSU Extension Bookstore.

Be SAFE is authored by Janet Olsen and Karen Pace of MSU Extension – both of whom have extensive experience in youth development, anti-bullying education and violence prevention.

For information about educational workshops and training on issues related to bullying and Be SAFE, contact Karen Pace ( or Janet Olsen (

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