Stopping the Spread of Violence

Hello Fellow Green Dotters,

In an address regarding the decision to close schools, a county superintendent said, “In the end, it will be impossible to know if we overreacted or did too much, but it will be QUITE apparent if we under reacted or did too little.” These are words that have stuck with me over the past few weeks because it helped me handle how much the world was changing around me. It made me accept wearing a mask to the grocery store, and kept me level headed while cancelling a trip I had been looking forward to for months. “Public safety is of the utmost importance” is a sentence we have been hearing over and over again over the last few months and of course it is true, but what if we were this vocal about public safety in terms of Power Based Personal Violence?

Just like a virus, power based personal violence can impact any person in any region of the world without discrimination. It does not matter what race you are, what sexual orientation you are, or how much money you have, anyone can experience it. And just like a virus, there are things we can do to prevent the spread; we can do green dots! Sometimes it is hard to believe that just one person can make a difference, but there is more power in your actions than you realize.

The quote I mentioned in the beginning is useful in understanding why bystander intervention is so important. It can seem as if going out of your way to drive a friend home from a party to make sure they got home safely was unnecessary, that they probably would have been fine even if you left them there. It may have even seemed like you overreacted. However, if you had not acted it is possible that your friend could have been harmed had you not taken them home when you did. Sometimes you can’t know for sure if violence will occur, so it seems that trying to prevent a red dot from happening was a waste of time. I would take a possible overreaction over doing too little and allowing someone to be harmed any day. When there is a chance for violence to occur, the risk of not intervening has the potential to change someone’s life forever. So remember, even if it doesn’t feel like you are changing the world around you by doing simple green dots, I promise that wondering if you really needed to act is far superior to knowing that you should have.  

August Comes to a Close 2019

Hey Readers!

By now school is in full swing and classes are probably starting to feel pretty regular again!  As August comes to a close and September opens up to cooler weather we’ll be anticipating a three day weekend that might leave you with a bitter sweet after taste of summer.

Labor day marks the first Monday of September and this year falls on the 2nd, it serves as a great day for grilling out and spending time with the family.  There’s not much better than getting a scheduled day off with all the other members of your community, it makes for a great opportunity to get together and share in each others company.  Personally, I’ve always liked labor day because it’s one of the first holidays of any school year! Labor day’s origins lie in the union movements at the turn of the 20th century. Although it has lost much of it’s focus on unionized labor over the years, the holiday remains a great way to mark the end of summer and serves as a reminder that we all need a little time off once in a while.

Wile you’re out grilling, floating in the pool, sun bathing, or just enjoying some TV on your day off; Green Dot wants to encourage you to remain proactive.  Violence prevention start with good conversations and proper attention to what’s going on in your families lives. Some great conversation starters might be just asking how school is going and making sure that your friend or family member is getting along with their classmates.  Violence prevention can be as easy as enjoying the company of your family, while making sure they are safe! If you want to go the extra mile, consider having some of your neighbors over for a cookout. By building a strong community you’re setting yourself up to be a violence prevention expert, plus you might even make some great relationships along the way!

Whatever your Green Dots (big or small), they’ll add up to something great!

August 2019 Welcome Back!

Hey Readers!

I hope you’ve made the most of your summer, because classrooms and homework are on the horizon!  Although it’s been fun, all good things must come to an end, so that life can continue about it’s usual normalcy.

School is back in session, but that doesn’t necessarily mean things aren’t looking up.  We’ll soon have the opportunity to meet with friends on the regular, engage in clubs and extracurricular activities, compete in sports and thrilling competition, as well as participate in all the Green Dot activities we have planned for you in the coming school year.  No matter which way you look at it, there’s a lot to be excited about this fall!

The start of the school year is a great opportunity to get acquainted with school staff.  Getting familiar with your teachers and resource officer is a good way to feel at home quickly, as well as simultaneously setting you up for success down the line.  Not only is it nice to recognize people on campus, but by getting to know your teachers you’re also being proactive. Being proactive just means being prepared for any situation that might arise, whether it be violence, or just maintaining your GPA.

This August, Green Dot wants to challenge you to make a new friend at the start of this semester.  Maybe it’ll be someone totally new to the area, or maybe it’ll be someone you already recognize but never took the time to talk?  Whether you become best friends for life, or just better acquainted, getting to know your peers is a great way to establish community with your classmates on campus.  We think that a connected community is a safe community, and there’s no better way to do that than by being a friend. Who knows? Your future best friend might be just in the class adjacent to you!

Memorial Day!

Hey Readers!

School officially ends this week, and with it summer vacation has arrived! It’s time to get on down to the beach, lay out in the sun, and relax. There’s nothing quite like the weather for the first few weeks of summer in Florida.

Memorial Day was this Monday if you weren’t already aware. For those of us not in school, this serves as a much needed Monday off for some and a day of somber remembrance for others. We all know that Memorial Day is a day for honoring those that have fallen while serving our military, but did you know that it actually got its roots from as far back as the American Civil War? The Civil war officially ended in the spring of 1865; following the conflict many national cemeteries sprung up and with them many communities started having days of tribute to honor the dead. By the late 1860s, dozens of towns had established ‘decoration day’; this was a time when the community could come together to decorate graves, recite prayers and spend time with loved ones. Fast forward a hundred years and congress establishes it as a national and federal holiday with the new name Memorial Day.

Holidays are a great time to spend the day with loved ones. Nothing quite ‘recharges my batteries’ like spending time with my family and listening to them argue over the latest current events. Sometimes I feel like I’m just waiting for the in between moments when I get to relax with the people that are really important, or share in a long afternoon where the sun does its best to not set too early.

Get-together’s can also serve as an excellent opportunity to be proactive and keep your loved ones safe! Safety can be as easy as having a conversation about preparation, or sharing your contact information with a friend. Letting other people know that you’re the person to call when life gets real is an excellent way to ensure you’re doing your part in keeping a healthy community (just remember you have to be ready to show up too)!

No matter what Green Dots you choose to do, remember that you can make a difference! Big or small our good deeds will add up to something great!

May 7th – 13th

Hey Readers!

The weather is getting so warm it already feels like summer!  Now is a great time to get to the beach, hit the back yard, go for a hike, or enjoy some of your favorite activities under the sun.  Officially summer will begin June 21st during the summer solstice, but even now the weather is beautiful in our home the sunshine state.

Today’s message is about the bystander effect!  If you were in a situation where you needed someone around you to help you, which would you prefer?  Would you rather have many people around you or only a select few?  Naturally you might assume that it’s better to have more people around you and that there is safety in numbers.  However, an interesting thing happens when there are many people witnessing something that makes them uncomfortable; we call this social diffusion of responsibility.  Basically, the more people are around you, the more you’ll assume someone else will take care of the problem and you won’t have to.  It’s kinda like when you encounter litter in a public space and you just assume you don’t need to pick it up because someone else will probably take care of it anyway.  This phenomenon was first discovered after the murder of one Kitty Genovese.  She was killed just outside of her apartment, but what’s most interesting is that over 30 people from her apartment building heard her.  All of the neighbors had assumed one another would have already called the police, so no one was called until it was too late. 

The bystander effect is one example of what we at Green Dot would call a barrier.  Barriers are anything that make it hard for us to do the right thing in a difficult situation.  Deep down I think the majority of us are good people, but sometimes it can be hard to do the right thing (especially if it involves strangers).  Too often we assume social situations that involve other people are none of our business and we shouldn’t get involved.  However, if a situation makes you uncomfortable, we think you should definitely get involved.  Sometimes being a good bystander can be as easy as delegating to the right person.  Whether it’s talking to the school counselor about the behavior of one of your classmates, or letting the resource officer on campus know about someone who’s been exhibiting violent tendencies. 

No matter what your Green Dot, by getting involved you’re making it less likely that people in your community will get harmed.  Big or small, together our good actions will add up to something great!

April 30th-May 6th

Hey Readers!

May is in full swing and with it comes summer! I was lucky enough to enjoy some good weather this weekend down near the Suwanee River. Hopefully the rest of the month will bring us clear blue skies and light showers.

Over the weekend I was fortunate enough to take a trip up and down the Suwanee River. It was a great opportunity for me to see some ‘authentic’ Florida, emerald green water and 8 foot wide cyprus trees dominated the scenery and set the mood. Many of Florida’s rivers feature some of the best fresh water springs in the country; this includes the particular section of river we were traveling to, the Ichetucknee. The sun beat down on us as we approached the large spring head, but this made the spring all the more refreshing as we took a dip. We finished up our journey with some much needed cool drinks and a real barbecue.

It’s interesting that even though the world around us changes every day the river seems to be at a standstill (both literally and figuratively). The slow moving green water has been there sporting its trees and natural scenery since long before any of us were here. Even since times of Spanish explorers and Native Americans, Florida’s rivers have been frozen in time, ever sporting leaf bearing trees and wild game. Interestingly, what has changed most about the river over the last several hundred years are the boats that traverse up and down its murky channels.

In Calhoun County, we should be experiencing beautiful weather this week, like that of my last weekend. It’s the perfect time to invite out some friends, have a barbecue, or sunbathe out in the back yard! Social events are a great opportunity to be proactive or to talk about preventing violence. Keeping our community safe can be as easy as having a conversation about how to deal with a bully, or talking to your loved ones about how they’d react to a school fight or any other social disturbance. Being prepared means being safe!

So next time you find yourself hanging out with friends on one of these beautiful Spring days, find a way to create a Green Dot! Big or small, anyone can make a difference in keeping our community safe

April 23-29

Hey Readers!

The last month of the school year is finally here and I think I speak for everyone when I say it’s the best month.  End of school sports events, school wide fun days, state wide testing, and summer fever are taking over the schools and I don’t think there’s another time in the year that is this exciting!

Last week Blountstown High School enjoyed their school wide field day. The event was a big success and I think most students had an excellent day!  Field day featured snow cones, obstacle courses, and some other blow up attractions.  On top of that all of the student’s got the opportunity to hang out, play some games, and enjoy the sun shine!

Last week Green Dot had four overviews at Liberty County High School. The students were great and sharing our message with them was a joy.  The overviews focus on Green Dot’s goals and a few ways we can get involved in preventing violence in our communities.  If you’re looking for some ways to get involved at your school or in your community this blog might be a great place to start.  Thinking about the safety of those around you and imagining yourself in positions where you would need to act is a great way to begin becoming the bystander that future you would be proud of!

Last week we were also able to get some great face to face time with some of Blountstown High’s students in the library.  You may know that your student’s are smart, but did you know that they’re so good at games like chess!  Many of the students use their free time in the library to play different games like Yugioh, and a lot of them have gotten really good at them!

If you can think of an upcoming school event that could use a little violence prevention messaging, get in touch with us!  A great person to talk to about getting in touch with us is your principal, or reception in the front office at your school.  And remember, big or small anyone can make a difference in their community.  Just by being prepared and watching out for your friends you could end up as someone’s hero!

April 15th – 22nd

Hey Green Dotters!

May is fast approaching and with it comes prom, end of school activities, and something everyone can get excited about!  Summer!  Whether you’re a student or a staff member, I don’t think it’s possible to not be excited about summer vacation.  With just 6 weeks left in the school year we’re planning to send you off right with some Green Dot activities, and a few well timed events!

This past week at Liberty County High School we held our most recent ice cream social.  The event was a big success as we were able to serve as many students that wanted to participate, (as well as slip in some anti violence messaging.)  The messaging focused on being proactive and how just by getting involved through conversation, preparation, and ending isolation; you can make a big difference in the safety of your school.  We hope you enjoyed the event and that we started a few conversations at your table!  IMG_0005.JPG

If you want to be more prepared in case you encounter violence, knowing how you can respond is a great way to start.  In our program we like to divide up reactive Green Dots into 3 categories: Direct, Delegate, and Distract.  Direct  means that when you see something that makes you uncomfortable you’re going to get directly involved.  Pretty simple.  This means you have to know what to say, know who to address, and know what to do if the situation escalates.  If you’re anything like me getting Directly involved is no problem at all, you’ve spent every shower winning arguments in your head and you’re more than prepared to handle this situation.  As cool as getting directly involved can be, it’s not the only way to end up being the hero.  Another great Green Dot is to delegate, this Green Dot is perfect for our chatty students that love to socialize.  Delegating just means to tell someone else, this means knowing the man for the job and having the contacts to call on in case an emergency happens.  Being someone who delegates might mean maintaining personal relationships with your peers and teachers, as well as calling on them when someone needs their assistance.  It might also mean having hot line numbers ready if it’s something serious.  Last, but definitely not least; we have Distract.  Distracting can be a great Green Dot if you’re someone who usually delegates, but there’s noone around you to help.  It might also be a great Green Dot for those of us that want to get directly involved, but don’t like interpersonal conflict and only want to diffuse the situation before it escalates.  Distracting means changing the subject of conversation, or making people feel more comfortable, or sometimes drawing attention away from a conflict and onto yourself.  It might be grabbing someone’s attention before a school fight, or sitting with 2 people at lunch that you know have an unhealthy relationship.

No matter what your Green Dot is you can have a huge impact on your peers.  Sometimes all it takes to be the hero is asking someone what’s wrong.  Not only will you be making the school safer, but you might even make someone’s day!

April 8th – 15th

Hey Readers!

Last week blinked by!  Tonight (April, 15th) is Blountstown High School’s poetry slam.  If you’re a Blountstown High School student, you ought to stop by this evening from 5 – 8 pm to hear some great rhymes by some great students.  

Tomorrow at Liberty County High School is our Green Dot ice cream social!  Don’t worry too much about showing up, because we’re bringing the event right to you!  All you have to do is show up to lunch regularly and stop by our table. The event will focus on some different ways we can be proactive through really simple things a lot of us do everyday!  It might be asking one of your teachers to be there if you need them, or asking a parent about how they dealt with a bully in high school. No matter what your proactive Green Dot, together we’ll add them up to something great!

Doing Green Dot’s can be really easy, you just have to know here to start.  Sometimes to get started on anything, whether it be exercising more, or eating better, or going to bed on time, it’s best to start with one task.  For example, if you were lifting weights but had never really done it before, it might be best to start with your form. Don’t worry about how much weight you’re taking on, or how many reps you can do, for the first couple of weeks you may want to just practice squatting with your chest out.  Once the form feels natural and you’ve made a habit of going to the gym, you’ll be ready to take on greater challenges. If you start out engines blazing, you might burn out sooner than you thought you would, and similar to any exercise, the best way to do Green Dot’s consistently is to make a habit of it.  

Some great early Green Dot’s might just be talking to one person about violence prevention a week; you don’t have to know what to say, you just have to make the commitment to doing it first.  Another great starter Green Dot might be getting to know that quiet person in class. It may be awkward at first, and they might not know what to talk with you about, but by doing it consistently you’ll become an expert.  Who knows, even from humble beginnings you may go from asking someone about their weekend, to becoming someone’s hero!

April 1st-8th

Hey Readers!

I hope you had at least half as good of a spring break as I did!  Personally I went to the beach once and spent more than enough time lounging around the house.  Time off always leaves me refreshed and ready to take on new challenges wherever they might be, which really means I laid around long enough that I finally got bored.

If you’re a student at Liberty County High School, boy do we have a lot planned for you this month!  Later this week we have some overview speeches planned, which we will be conducting primarily in the English classes.  Later in the month we’ll be conducting a 6 hour bystander training with around 20 students, so if you’re excited about the possibility of attending I’d go bug Mr. Willis in the front office to make sure you get placed on the list.  Not only do we have our regularly planned activities, but we’ll be conducting a school wide ice cream social somewhere in between for anyone that wants to participate!  For the Ice Cream social you don’t even have to worry about showing up, you’ll see us in the lunch room waiting on you!

Remember that big or small you can do so much to make your community safer.  Just by being a friend and a good neighbor you can really make a difference in your school or community.  We call these small good deeds Proactive Green Dot’s and there’s countless things you could be doing to make your school safer.  It might be sitting with someone at lunch that appears to be alone, or sharing your phone number with a new student.  You might do your part by wearing a Green Dot t-shirt, or having a conversation with a family member about how they handled a bully when they were in school.  No matter what your Green Dot your actions have a huge impact on the students around you!  As long as we all do a few small things, it’ll add up to something great!