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Bringing an end to bullying

Olweus targets children ages 6 to 15 in elementary, middle and junior high school. It's directed at improving peer relations and includes all students in a school with special additional individual attention for those students identified as bullies or victims of bullies.

The program extends beyond school walls, as well. Olweus calls for meetings between school personnel, students and the community at large in order to incorporate those same anti-bullying messages and strategies into community activities for youth.

According to its web site, the Olweus program has proven to be effective, boasting an impressive 30 to 70 percent reduction in student reports of being bullied, significant reductions in reports of antisocial behavior in students and improvements in general classroom order and discipline. Students also reported a more positive attitude toward school after the Olweus program had been implemented in their classrooms.

In fact, the program is so effective that it was chosen as one of 10 "model programs" to be used in nationwide violence prevention initiatives. It was one of 500 under consideration.

Implementation at WFE

All of these factors contributed to Willow Field's decision to implement the program. Next, they just had to learn how to do it.

Fortunately, they had help.

"It so happened that our local BOCES had had a couple of staff development sessions to train in this model," Quattrini said. "We talked to our PTO, and they were very willing to support the training and the purchase of the materials and the questionnaire [that is administered to students before program implementation to gather data on bullying and perceptions of bullying]."

Quattrini then discussed the program with the district, which decided it could pay the initial fees and allow WFE to pilot the program.

"They decided we should pilot it and see what it does and see if we should look at applying it more broadly," Quattrini said.

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