Dr. Guillaume has been in the education field for over 25 years. She has been a classroom teacher and assistant director in the public and private school systems primarily in the area of special education. She has also served as an Administrator, Principal, full-time faculty member, and subsequently Dean. Prior to joining Northcentral University, Dr. Guillaume held Academic Senior Leadership positions as Dean for the College of Education at Grand Canyon University (GCU) and Director of Academic Affairs/Regional Assistant Dean for the College of Education at University of Phoenix (UOP). During her term as Regional Assistant Dean, she led both the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) and Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC) accreditation and approval processes at the UOP Online Campus in direct collaboration and cooperation with the Corporate Dean’s Office.
She talks to NoBullying.com about Bullying Prevention with NoBullying.com’s Founder, Ciaran Connolly.
Ciaran Connolly: Do you see a difference in how bullying happens today compared to how it might have happened 10 or 15 years ago?
Dr Cindy Guillaume: I think bullying is bullying and it can mean different things to different people. So, for me it’s the receiver. If somebody is receiving something that doesn’t feel right, that’s uncomfortable, that’s hurtful, I think that’s bullying and we need to take that into consideration when we need to work with children and adults that bullying is bullying and it’s the receiver that really defines it but the most important thing, I believe, is that we do something about it and that’s the prevention piece. So, if we can educate our community and help them to reduce the incidences of bullying, the prevention is better than treatment in a lot of ways and if we have more prevention, we will have the less need for more treatment of bullying and that means less incidents.
CC: Of course, and if we start to talk about education cause obviously it’s a sector that you have a great deal of experience in.What can schools and universities do to ensure they provide the best education to staff on bullying?
CG: I think number one is really engaging of stakeholders to promote working alliances together to build this larger community and knowledgeable community to help really with reducing bullying and being able to really become aware. I think awareness is the key. So, that involves engaging all of your stakeholders in education, training, possibly some workshop development, adding it to your curriculum. Just really getting the word out there of recognizing the signs of bullying, including who to notify, what to do and especially for teachers and administrators in schools. I think it’s really critical that they are educated and become aware of signs and symptoms of bullying and some are very subtle and some there may be not be signs but I think just being able to educate our educational field in how to approach bullying and what to do about it to keep our children safe is the most important thing.
Education and Bullying Prevention
CC: Brilliant and of course again your university is very focused in higher education and in training people. Is anti bullying part of the curriculum? Is it something that is promoted in the university and talked about? Are people equipped to go out into the world with better skills? Maybe is part of, I guess, extracurricular activities or is it even in lessons as well? Just wondering what happens in universities themselves.
CG: That’s a really good question, Ciaran. I think it has become more of a topic and of focus at the university level, absolutely, to incorporate training for teachers. To develop them and equip them with skills so that they can work with students and then providing a safe environment and yes, we do have some curriculum already that we have integrated into our programs. We have a safe schools program and we are looking at adding possibly some additional curriculum as far as a certificate. So, the whole certificate program will focus on keeping children safe and free from bullying or any kind of abuse and neglect.
CC: Excellent script here and you mentioned about policies and school policies. Do you think that a school policy is critical to have in place that really clearly defines what bullying is? And how the school handles it? Is that something that is very important?
CG: I think the most important thing to remember is education and that would involve the students, absolutely. I think the more that we can talk about it and work and collaborate with students and in helping them to equip themselves as far as moving forward in knowing what bullying is and being able to know who to go to and have the ability to go to someone and not feel like “Oh! Something is going to happen to me if I do go to someone” but know there are safe adults in their community that they can go and talk to about any situation is important.
Bullying Prevention: Teachers and the Community
CC: And do you think there is ever risk that a teacher might be bullied? I’m thinking especially now with smart phones and social media, how quick can easy it is to take a photo or to post something online. Are teachers safe from bullies?
CG: I don’t think it’s quite that simple to narrow it just to teachers but I do think that we want to focus and again on building this safety net around children and students and that would involve the teachers of course. Educating them in prevention and helping them understand how severe and wrong this truly is. So, again I go back to it’s about building a community. Adults that build a safe community around the child and that would involve education, that would involve recognizing symptoms and that would also involve taking action when they know this is occurring.
CC: Excellent and you mentioned stakeholders of community. So, you strongly feel that parents also have a key role to play in educating our children and to be better citizens. I guess there is a lot of pressure on teachers and the education system to produce results and they’re measured and monitored on the grades and performance in schools but also they have a duty of care to look after children. Parents have equally important, if not more important, part to play in the whole equation; would you agree with that or would you have a different view?
CG: I absolutely would agree that there is numerous demands on our teachers and balancing curriculum with keeping children safe with all of their other duties really takes some education again I hope after that. It’s really the institutional education is working with their districts to maybe look at other resources that are there for them to bring into this classroom that might achieve both the curriculum and possibly the passion and the safety around children in keeping them safe. So, I do think that if there is a will there is a way and I think just the awareness of this huge problem is a start for us and now we have to do something about it in educating people to take action.
CC: Excellent and you have had a lot of personal experience in the education sector and then with child help as well. Have you ever come across severe cases of bullying?
CG: On a personal basis?
CC: Sorry, well in the education field.
CG: You know, I can’t just disclose any names or anything but I absolutely have seen and have worked with children that have been severely abused physically, emotionally and have worked with some of the top experts in the field as far as working. I was really on the prevention end but I have worked with the top experts in the field on treatment for these children. So, yes. I do have experience in that area.
Bullying Prevention: The Long Term Effects
CC: And when you are mentioning these children, do you think there are long term effects to children who are bullied?
CG:I think it’s a possibility absolutely. There could be some long term effects. I think if there is treatment soon early enough on or prevention, of course this is my number one goal is to prevent it before it happens, but if it does happen, unfortunately, I do believe that there could be some long term effects but I do also believe that people can heal and recover and live a normal life.
CC:Excellent, well thank you very much Dr Cindy for your time today. It was great to have someone representing the School Of Education from Northcentral University talk to us today and someone who is looking after the education of 3000 young people. So, your views were greatly appreciated.
CG: Thank you Ciaran, have a great day
CC: No problem, and if anyone wants to find out any more about the university you have a website that they can go to?