06/22/11 “Approximately 160,000 school children stay home each day out of fear, often without telling their parents why,” according to Dan Olweus, Founder of the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program.
On Thursday, June 2nd school was out for students at Argos Community Schools but school was in for teachers and staff who participated in a day-long training on the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program. Mary Yoder Holsopple, Bullying Prevention Coordinator for Elkhart Community Schools, skillfully facilitated the Olweus Bullying Prevention Training held in the Argos Community Schools Auditorium.
Over the past ten years, the ripple of widely publicized school shootings has demonstrated that the nation’s epidemic of youth violence has broadened in terms of age, geography and sex, to encompass all populations. The attention drawn by the media to these recent tragedies has thankfully also drawn attention to issues regarding the early identification and the prevention of one of the root causes of this violence – bullying.
Argos Community Schools believes that students can learn and achieve at optimal levels ONLY if they know they are both physically and psychologically safe at school. Thus Argos is taking proactive steps to stop and prevent bullying by adopting the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program. This research-based school wide “systems-change” program has been used successfully in schools all over the country and around the world with positive results.
This program is not a curriculum that students participate in for only a few weeks. Rather, it is a coordinated effort that includes teachers and staff, students, parents and community members working together on this most important societal concern. Specifically it gives all the adults in the school effective steps to use to intervene when bullying happens. Also as part of the program, students participate in weekly class meetings to proactively learn about the effects of bullying, what they can do about it, and how they can work with adults at school to put a stop to it even as bystanders. Parents will have meetings, too, so they can support the messages students are getting in school during those most important hours after school. Parents also will receive great insights on technology and the value of establishing clear and enforceable guidelines.
Dr. Jennifer Lucht, Superintendent of Argos Community Schools said “This type of program is about changing the whole school climate to make it a safer, more positive place to learn. One change that many schools have noticed after using this program for a year or two is that students actually like school better. It makes sense—it’s hard to learn if you’re afraid or if other students are mean to you.”
Attendees for the day-long training included 54 individuals that were cafeteria workers, bus drivers, teachers, guidance counselors, administrators and instructional assistants. A second training is already planned for those staff members unable to attend the June 2nd workshop. Also ten participants met the next day to establish the Argos Bullying Prevention Committee that will guide the implementation of this important program. These workshops have been funded through a matching grant from the ICJI (Indiana Criminal Justice Institute).
Implementing the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program is part of Argos Community Schools’ long-term commitment to educating students both academically and inter- personally. Teachers and staff at Argos are convinced that Argos graduates will be more successful because they have experienced traditional academics with a strong emphasis on social skills training and are excited about the tools this training will give adults and students alike to make this world a safer place for all.
Picture 1: Nick Medich and Jon Arndt discuss the mornings session on bullying during the lunch intermission.
Picture 2: Cathy Null and Portia Wampler enjoy treats from Subway and staff donations during the Olweus Bullying Prevention Training Seminar offered to Argos Community Schools.
Picture 3: Faculty and staff enjoy a lunch and conversation as they attend the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program.