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SPIRIT: Maintaining a “Cooler Classroom” Climate

Bullying takes many forms. It happens in many contexts. Because bullying is complex, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for it.

“Student Problem Identification and Resolution of Issues Together” (SPIRIT ) is a service program that CRS delivers to schools across the nation. The program helps schools prevent bullying by focusing on the social tension and conflict that can lead to it, including:

  • Creating a space for teachers, students, and parents to build understanding and trust through discussion
  • Assessing a school’s social climate to see what the general thoughts are on bullying

The Community Relations Services (CRS), part of the Department of Justice, serves as “America’s Peacemaker.” They are working with communities to build understanding and trust through conversation.

CRS has offices across the country. These offices employ “Conciliation Specialists”—conflict resolution experts who lead problem-solving discussions in emotionally charged situations. They develop collaborative strategies to reduce tensions, fears, and anxieties within communities by working with:

  • Local government agencies
  • Community faith-based organizations
  • Law enforcement
  • Business and community leaders

CRS has worked with schools across the nation for more than 45 years. They help faculty and students work through discrimination-based conflicts as mandated by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Shepard-Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009. They have helped schools build strategies to:

  • Improve lines of communication
  • Establish programs to eliminate misconceptions
  • Develop plans to prevent conflict and improve relations among students, faculty, staff, parents, and community groups

SPIRIT helps school communities address school climate issues. SPIRIT consists of two half-day interactive sessions that identify school strengths, concerns, and solutions from formal and informal student leader’s perspectives. SPIRIT also engages community members—school administrators, teachers, school resource officers, local officials, community leaders, and parents—in identifying and responding to issues that cause conflicts in schools. As a federal program, SPIRIT is available to communities concerned with discrimination-based conflicts free of charge.

Learn more about Community Relations Service and SPIRIT at www.usdoj.gov/crs.

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