Positive Adult-Student Relationships, Trust And Fairness Keys To Reducing Bullying
Every day, about 160,000 students in the United States miss school because they are scared of bullying.
Bullying has become such a serious problem that at least 19 states have rules that school districts establish bullying prevention policies and programs.
In one such state - Colorado - recent research shows that 60 percent of educators surveyed consider bullying the single most important problem or among the top five problems facing their school. Almost all felt it was their responsibility to intervene in bullying.
Educators in Colorado are working hard to make schools safe environments for learning and decrease violence, aggression and truancies. Some are showing remarkable success.
Consider Brush Middle School, located in a rural community about 90 miles northeast of Denver. The rate of bullying among the school's eighth-graders was one of the highest in the state. These rates dropped dramatically by 56 percent after the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program was introduced. The program trains school staff, students and parents to reduce bullying, prevent future bullying and improve relationships at every level.
"Everyone on staff said, 'This is a priority,'" says Angel Giffin, bullying prevention coordinator for the Brush School District. "We listened to what students said they needed, like more adult supervision during free time, and we made those changes. When you take time to really listen and talk with kids, you build their self-esteem and self worth, and their behavior comes around."
She says that bullies began realizing the impact they had on other students. Some became defenders of those they previously had bullied. Others improved the way they interacted at school - and everywhere else in their life.
"When you hold kids to a higher standard, they rise to the challenge," says Giffin. "As time progressed, we saw kids stepping up to intervene in bullying situations. And when they began developing more positive relationships at school, their grades went up and they got more involved in activities and sports."
Brush Middle School is one of 54 schools that participated in The Colorado Trust's 2005-2008 bullying prevention initiative. The goal was to help youths and adults intervene in and prevent bullying through training, networking, practice sessions and other strategies. The Colorado Trust is a grantmaking foundation devoted to advancing the health and well-being of the people of Colorado.
Now, an independent evaluation commissioned by The Colorado Trust sheds new light on what it really takes to reduce bullying, who bullies and what types of bullying are prevalent at different grade levels.
Evaluators studied the impact of the three-year, $9 million bullying prevention initiative funded by The Colorado Trust. The initiative involved 45 schools, school districts and community-based organizations. Together, they reached 50,000 young people and adults in 40 Colorado counties in rural, suburban and inner-city areas.
Reprinted with permission from The Colorado Trust.
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