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WFE pilots new anti-bullying program for LCSD

Ask any group of school-aged kids what their major stressors are and you can bet at least one will say a bully.

Bullying takes many forms and, with the advancement of technology, has unfortunately expanded beyond the playground. The term refers to any physical or verbal harassment of one person by another, whether it's in person, in writing or in cyberspace.

In order to address this problem, the Liverpool Central School District is piloting a new anti-bullying program at Willow Field Elementary. The Olweus Bullying Prevention Program addresses bullying in school and in the community as a whole. The program has been implemented in at least a dozen countries worldwide and gives students a consistent message that bullying others is not acceptable. It also trains teachers to identify, respond to and safeguard against bullying.

"We started looking at this last year, this notion of bullying," said WFE Principal Henry "Chick" Quattrini. "The impetus came from a parent whose child, in her words, was being bullied. So we pursued some research to see what was out there."

The program

In the course of their research, WFE staffers found one aspect was key to initiate a change and bring an end to bullying: consistency. The program that offered that as well as a doable program that could be built from the ground up was the Olweus program.

Developed by Norwegian psychologist Dan Olweus, the program was developed after the suicide of three boys in Norway after they were bullied by their peers. In order to prevent a similar scenario from recurring, Olweus created a program that sought to change the culture in which bullies were developing. In order to make that change, it was necessary to put together an initiative that operated on the school level (adopting a system of rules and adhering to them strictly, developing consequences for violation of the rules and involving parents in the entire process), the classroom level (regular meetings in the classroom to increase knowledge of bullying and empathy between students) and the individual level (one-on-one intervention with bullies, their victims and the parents of all students involved).

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