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Anti-bullying programs in schools

By Sarah Klein

The tragic death of Phoebe Prince, a 15-year-old Massachusetts high school student, has once again put the spotlight on bullying in our schools. Phoebe hanged herself in January of this year after months of relentless online and offline bullying by fellow classmates at South Hadley High.

Since then, parents, schools, and state governments around the country have been scrambling to examine their own record on bullying and come up with programs that can prevent similar tragedies from happening elsewhere.

Recent studies suggest that about one-third of U.S. students aged 12 to 18 have been subjected to some form of bullying. Much of the harassment now takes place online, where the bullies find it easier to hide behind hurtful e-mails, texts and Facebook posts. Although as many as 40 states now have laws on the books that address bullying, much of the responsibility for prevention still lies with schools and the administrators that oversee them.

Despite the recent focus on bullying, some far-sighted schools have had anti-bullying programs in place for years. The best involve the entire school community, with kids, parents, teachers and other staff trained to recognize and report bullying and take preventive measures as soon as possible.

One of the most popular programs currently in place is the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program, a system developed in response to the suicides of three Norwegian boys back in the 1980s. Dan Olweus, a pioneering bullying research professor, used the results of his studies to create a prevention program that has been in use ever since. The system aims to reduce incidences of bullying and improve the overall atmosphere of a school by fostering warmth, a positive outlook, and a zero-tolerance policy from involved adults.

Over 32 public schools in Philadelphia have adopted the program. Other schools from Virginia to Arizona have reported encouraging results, including a school in California that recorded a 21% decrease in reports of bullying just one year after implementing the prevention program.

Kansas modeled its own anti-bullying program after the Olweus system in 1999. Randy Wiler, the director of the program, was one of the first people in the U.S. to be trained in the Olweus method, and now offers similar training on a national basis. He wrote the anti-bullying curriculum currently used in the D.A.R.E. program, which reaches over 30 million children in the U.S. each year.

The Denver, Colorado-based non-profit organization Creating Caring Communities developed Bully-Proofing Your School in the mid 1990s. The program was again based on the Olweus system but with a more detailed and defined curriculum for teachers to use in alerting both students and parents to the dangers of bullying.

Various other non-profits have drafted their own plans, like Seattle's Committee for Children's program called Steps to Respect, which has resulted in a 31% decline in bullying.

Bullying experts agree that more important than giving a special name to variations of the same anti-bullying best practices is committing wholly to the effort. The more adults who are aware of and willing to speak up against bullying, the safer children will be everywhere.

Does your child's school have an anti-bullying program in place? What special measures does your school system take? Share your thoughts with The Online Mom!

Comment by Janay Simon, posted 9/16/2011, 5:57 PM:

My daughter has not really been bullied in school, but she has seen her friends being bullied. She is just now entering junior high school. She has joined her school's Club Live, and is the Publicity Officer for their events. Her awareness has brought about my awareness. I am hoping to share these blogs and ideas with her, and she in turn will be able to post them on their Club Live Web site and Facebook pages. Thank you for all the useful blogs and Web links.
Comment by MrMike, posted 9/8/2011, 10:59 PM:

I have developed a bully prevention show for elementary schools. Learn more about it here... http://www.StopBullyingShow.com
Comment by Sybil, posted 10/30/2010, 2:37 PM:

Hello, I am currently working toward starting a program on self esteem and bullying. Last year my child's school allowed me to come in to speak with kids on bullying. They loved it. I worked with kids from pre k3 to 8th grade. I took the approach as a mentor and was amazed at how many kids were bullied and their parents brushed it off. Since we've moved (husband is navy) I've reached out to our new school. I think this issue is way out of control and schools do not act quickly.
Comment by Breezy, posted 10/6/2010, 11:41 PM:

Our children are taking their lives, contemplating suicide and/or suffering in silence in record numbers due to the horrible effects of bullying.

All of us must do our part to stop the bullying and help children feel secure and at peace while at school. Our children deserve to live and learn in a nurturing atmosphere, with a safe enriching environment and positive surroundings all accomplished with motivating decor that help to inspire, build good character and instill values in children helping them to live their best life into adulthood. Positive attributes such as compassion, peace, respect, love, self-control and more are reinforced providing encouragement and support on a daily basis. ” We can make a difference and help save lives”, says, Sunny co-creator of Motivating Decor.

We must be open to project and present anti-bullying tactics to children in more than one way. We also need to empower children to handle the challenges and stress they face at home and school. They don’t need the latest gadget, designer fashion or child star CD. Children need help in developing good character, saying no to negative pressure and tools to help them become the best they can be in life. All of our children are important, they do matter and their life is of value. It takes parents, educators, legislature all of us to show we care and make a difference.

Since it’s our mission to help promote good character, increase self-esteem and confidence we integrated what children love best, music, movement and having fun to create Rock It, a motivating character building dance/exercise CD/DVD to help promote happier and healthier minds and bodies. Rock It starts your day on a positive note, with a good frequency to rock integrity, rock forgiveness, rock patience, rock compassion and more winning keys to help children transform from the inside out”, says co-creator Breezy. In the process kids feel better about themselves, have empathy and compassion for others.

Every little bit helps. Motivating Decor and Rock It are excellent for home and school. Bullies ruin their life and the lives of others. This must stop and we can and must do our part to keep our children from taking their life, contemplating suicide and /or suffering in silence due to the horrible results of bullying. We don’t want parents to have to bury their child because they were bullied to death. To find out more visit www.motivatingdecor.com and www.rockingitforlife.com.

Comment by Gina, posted 8/11/2010, 10:29 PM:

Unfortunately my son's school doesn't have an Anti-Bullying Program set & I'm very upset about this. I've contacted the principal at the beginning of summer vacay about my concerns & he said to get back w/ him before school starts, in 2 weeks now. I've been doing my own relentless research on how I can implement a weekly/bi-weekly assembly & an awareness type prgram where students where tshirts to promote anti-bullying, etc.
Please help me to get this going and how I can present it to principal
Comment by Johnny, posted 6/20/2010, 11:36 AM:

Hi, There is a new anti bully program out that focuses on giving every child a voice which might be worth checking out. Their website also has loads of free resources on this subject including a very cool animated anti bully book. can be viewed here... http://www.wix.com/SpeakUpToYourTeacher/Order-page Johnny
Comment by Heather, posted 4/21/2010, 11:25 AM:

Ours does, but they don't do a good job of following it. We just went through counseling with my 11 year old who has been bullied since 1st grade by the same kids who continuously get a slap on the hand and nothing else. The counselor helped me with finding the necessary information on our bullying program and what steps I need to take to protect him. I just blogged about a new incident on the bus yesterday, w/new kids in the same group. So it starts all over again. :(
Comment by Susan Raisch, posted 4/20/2010, 6:34 AM:

Thanks for sharing this great information. Nearly every school has a bullying issue so why doesn't every school have a prevention plan? (http:tangledball.blogspot.com/). There are some barriers. In some cases: denial, teacher cooperation, parent interest and/or money. If that's the case, I encourage parents and schools to start somewhere. Even if it has to be small at first. Start engaging everyone in the school while you build to a larger scale program. Kids are in pain and need us.
Comment by Joellen Raderstorf, posted 4/19/2010, 11:01 PM:

Nice post! I still wish we could go at it from the positive side, instead of anti-bullying, we call it community-building, making sure everyone has the opportunity to contribute to the community. I still maintain that bullies are powerful people in need of redirection, someone believing in them. It's really just words. 31% reduction in bullying is great no matter what way you look at it. Best!
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