Student belonging is a critical component of a school culture that supports social and emotional learning, which is important for both academic success and student well-being

One district’s push to help students feel like they belong


Belonging is a critical component of a school culture that supports social and emotional learning, which is important for both academic success and student well-being

Bullying is prevalent in high schools and can lead to a lack of a sense of belonging. According to a new study, 51 percent of high school students say they have witnessed bullying at their school. When it comes to reporting, just under half (49 percent) say they would be comfortable talking to a teacher about bullying they witnessed, while just 34 percent would be comfortable if they were the ones being bullied.  

Iowa City Community School District, which serves over 14,000 students in grades K-12, uses Qualtrics to make it easier for students to communicate their concerns about bullying, sexual assault or harassment, discrimination and school safety to administrators. Students can scan QR codes on posters prominently displayed in bathrooms, cafeterias and hallways to report what they have witnessed or experienced, anonymously or not. Students can even upload videos, pictures or screenshots to help identify the problem.  

The “Say Something” campaign has resulted in more than 300 reports, triggering automatic emails to principals and select administrators, who have then taken quick action to protect students in cases of bullying, sexual harassment, hazing and more.  

“Before we had this campaign in place, the process to submit a concern or report an incident was very formal, and students were not always comfortable,” said Kristin Pedersen, director of Community Relations at Iowa City Community School District. “Qualtrics has given us a tool that utilizes something students already have in their hands — their phones. In these sensitive situations, it can make the difference between a student feeling helpless and a student getting the support that they need.”  

Laura Ascione

Want to share a great resource? Let us know at submissions@eschoolmedia.com.