NFV to host ‘Bully Project’ parents
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CUTLINE: North Fayette Valley students (front-back) Danny Wander, Bradley Normann (left), Joe Lauer, Karlee Ihde, and Savannah Bushman (right) demonstrate a “bullying circle” (see page) on a school bus. According to a North Fayette Elementary survey, a school bus trails only the playground as the most common place where bullying happens. NFV will host David and Tina Long, parents featured in the documentary film “Bully” at the Performing Arts Center in West Union on Tuesday, Sept. 17. (Mike Van Sickle photo)
NFV to host ‘Bully Project’ parents
By Mike Van Sickle
North Fayette Valley High School and Middle School, along with fifth- and sixth-grade classes from both the North Fayette and Valley school districts, are currently supporting the Bully Project’s “1 Million Kids” movement by hosting David and Tina Long, parents featured in the documentary film “Bully.”
The Longs will address the local students and faculty on Tuesday, Sept. 17, in an effort to promote caring and inclusive schools and communities.
The Murray County, Ga., couple’s son, Tyler, committed suicide in 2009. The Longs shared Tyler’s story in “Bully.” The documentary follows the lives of five students who face bullying on a daily basis. The goal of the film is to highlight solutions and systemic change that will bring together organizations and individuals to end bullying.
“The kids have been taught to stick up for each other and, as with
most things when a child is made aware of expectations, they will
rise to the occasion.”
While noting that both the North Fayette and Valley school districts are committed to providing school environments in which all students can learn and feel safe and respected for who they are, NFV High School Principal Todd Wolverton said, “To have David and Tina Long visit our school, meet with our students and faculty, and share their powerful story is a tremendous opportunity.”
“It will be extremely helpful to both the students and staff to hear firsthand how an entire family can be impacted by bullying,” agreed Sharon Rich, North Fayette Valley Middle School interim management operations principal. “I’m confident the experience will open all of our eyes and bring additional awareness of the issue to everyone.”
“It’s great to have such important information shared with the kids,” added high school guidance counselor Bill Clark. “Whenever you get a kid to think about something, it’s a great thing.”
The public is invited to attend the 2 p.m. high school assembly in the Performing Arts Center in West Union on Tuesday, Sept. 17. In addition, the Longs welcome the opportunity to answer questions from parents at the conclusion of the school day.
Successful NF Bullying Project
North Fayette was among area schools to have started its own “Bully Project” during the 2011-2012 school year.
NF Elementary guidance counselor Karen Hertges explained Thursday that in 2011 the local AEA agency helped train local school staff members in introducing the Olweus (pronounced Olveus) Bullying Prevention Program (OBPP) to North Fayette students in JK through sixth grade.
Developed by Dan Olweus, Ph.D., the program has been utilized in Norway since the ‘80s and more recently in U.S. schools. Dr. Olweus began studying bullying in the ‘70s.
The elementary staff member previously noted that OBPP is not a classroom curriculum. Rather, it is a whole-school, systemwide program for change at four levels: school, classroom, individual, and community.
While the staff and students follow anti-bullying rules and are trained to deal with bullying situations, the school district has developed partnerships with small-business owners in carrying out the anti-bullying message communitywide.
“The staff was ready to participate in an anti-bullying program. They knew bullying was an issue. It’s an issue in every school across the country,” said Hertges.
“In addition to the business owners displaying Hawk, and now TigerHawk, pride, the kids are visually witnessing that each of us, both adults and children, are expected to be caring and respectful of others,” she continued.
“We (school officials) also need to commend the parents for also sharing with their children [what is expected behavior],” Hertges stressed. “Families are bringing bullying into their conversations, openly talking about it at the dinner table or during activities.
“We are all teaching the kids what we accept, and no longer just assuming they already know. We can no longer assume it. We (adults) are fighting a lot of violence and other issues in music, television, movies, and the social media,” she added. “Our elementary staff continues to instill into the kids that such issues are not the norm and it is not how we conduct ourselves at North Fayette Valley.”
Hertges shared that the biggest piece of the training has been changing how a student or adult thinks and how to react to situations.
“Much of the success we have witnessed during our participation in the (Olweus) program was due to the development of a consistent set of guidelines and consequences for all of the students,” she added.
A large smile crosses the guidance counselor’s face as she reports that the proof of the early success of the program is truly in the numbers.
She shared that from 2011-2012 to 2012-2013, first-time cases of teasing and exclusion reported to Principal Kathy Bauer or to Hertges herself, decreased from 19 to two. In addition, reports of hitting, pushing, and/or slapping decreased from 18 to seven. Similarly, reports of severe hitting, punching, kicking, and/or causing other injuries decreased from nine to five.
Meanwhile, racial, ethnic, and/or sexual harassment infractions decreased from eight to three. Lastly, electronic media or other severe harassment issues decreased from three to zero.
“What is especially encouraging is that studies have shown the biggest jump in the success of the Olweus program takes place in year three,” Hertges grinned. “The kids have been taught to stick up for each other and, as with most things when a child is made aware of expectations, they will rise to the occasion.”
For additional information about “Bully,” visit www.thebullyproject.com.
The ‘bullying circle’
From Olweus Bullying Prevention Program studies, North Fayette Elementary guidance counselor Karen Hertges explained in a 2011 Fayette County Union article that students and adults are seen occupying various roles or positions in a “bullying circle.”
In addition to the bully and the target, there are normally the following role players in such situations:
• Followers or henchmen – The students who are positive toward the bullying and take an active part, but do not initiate the situation or play a lead role.
• Supporters or passive bullies – Students who actively and openly support the bully (through laughing, calling attention to the situation, etc.), but do not join in.
• Passive supporters or possible bullies – These students like the bullying, but do not show outward signs of support.
• Disengaged onlookers – These students do not get involved and do not take a stand, nor do they participate actively in either direction.
• Possible defenders – These students dislike the bullying and think they should help the student who is being bullied, but do nothing.
• Defenders – They dislike the bullying and help or try to help the student who is being bullied.
Hertges said a main goal of OBPP is to create anti-bullying norms in the peer group that will help move the students from the supporters to the role of the defenders, even if it’s only one position at a time.