2012-01-19 / Local & State

County Schools Implement New Bullying Program

Kickoff event at Southern Fulton with students Jan. 24
By Chanin Rotz-Mountz

Bullying is described as behavior involving teasing, spreading of false rumors, damaging personal property and even physical violence or the threat of violence. A continuing problem among school-age children, county school districts and members of the community are banding together to implement a world-renowned bullying prevention program locally.

Last month, the Forbes Road School District successfully kicked off the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program at both an elementary and junior/senior level. Assemblies on bullying as well as Internet safety and a special guest presentation by state Attorney General Special Agent Craig LeCadre were offered to the student body prior to welcoming parents and community members for a program overview.

Organizers said the program has been well-received and approximately 80 individuals were in attendance for the adult presentation. Others special guests on hand included Fulton County Probation Chief Daniel Miller and fellow officer Beth Bryant; Pennsylvania State Police from the McConnellsburg barracks; Fulton County Commissioner Craig Cutchall; Fulton County Center for Families staff; and McGruff the Crime Dog.

Since that time, students and staff have been following a rubric-based system that outlines infractions and corresponding punishment ranges. For example a first-time offender using name calling and insults would have a written warning placed in their personal file. A conference would also be held with a member of the Olweus faculty committee. On the opposite end of the spectrum, a third-time offense of racial, ethnic or sexual name calling or other severe harassment could result in a five- to 10-day suspension followed by in-school suspension until an individual plan is developed for the student.

A recent study released by Olweus shows that schools in Virginia, which implemented a statewide anti-bullying initiative in 2006, saw improved test scores. Ninety-four schools implemented Olweus at that time.

According to test findings, there was a “significant increase in standardized test scores in English, math, science, and history among schools that completely implemented the program. Even in schools where there was not complete compliance, test scores rose.”

Other changes observed in those schools regarding bullying included:

-63% of schools reported decreases in the frequency of children being bullied.

-75% of schools reported decreases in the frequency of children bullying others.

-31% of schools reported increases in teachers speaking to students about bullying behaviors.

-81% of schools reported increases in teachers actively trying to counteract bullying in the classroom.

A kickoff similar to the Forbes Road event is slated to be held later this month at the Southern Fulton School District. Scheduled for Tuesday, January 24, middle and high school students, along with faculty, will be meeting with Special Agent LeCadre to hear about the dangers of bullying, cyber bullying and electronic media starting at 9 a.m.

At 1 p.m., elementary students will be treated to “The Ned Show,” which will showcase bullying prevention as well through fun with yo-yos and educational information.

A community-parent Olweus kickoff for the Southern Fulton School District is tentatively scheduled for late January or early February. More details will follow.

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