Every other Monday, students participate in the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program. During these meetings, students review how to identify, prevent, and react to bullying.
Student Zoe Harbison said the “anti-bully meetings help our school, because they teach us how to recognize bullying and what we can do to stop it.”
Although the school quickly addresses any bullying issue reported, Shelby Ownbey, a seventh-grade teacher at CMS, mentioned that students are also taught to feel empathy for students who have been bullied because “we don't know what they may be going through.”
Each meeting focuses on one particular area of concern related to the causes and effects of bullying, such as how to effectively deal with anger or how and why students should make an effort to include others in their activities.
Student Emilia Mercado said the anti-bully program “makes us better people, so that we don’t go bullying people ourselves.” Teachers integrate discussion, writing activities, videos and acting out scenarios with the program’s structure to create a pleasant and informative session for students to explore and learn about bullying.
Students have responded positively to the curriculum. When students hear the announcement that the Olweus Bullying Prevention meeting will be held, many cheer and give high-fives to their peers. Although their response is likely tied to knowing that they will have a short break from strictly academic activities, they are learning, as well.
Tammy Jones, a sixth-grade teacher at CMS, stated that the biweekly meetings “give students a venue in which to discuss bullying issues.”
Parent Mary Exline believes integrating anti-bullying instruction is a must, noting that young people can be cruel at this age. Some students have taken the initiative to create and hang posters in the hallway about how being a bully is not cool, and teachers have noticed the majority of students demonstrate empathy and acceptance of peers. Student Grace Steely asserts that the program “makes our school a safer, more fun environment.”
The primary reason this curriculum works is that it is research-based.
According to Clemson University, “The program has been found to reduce bullying among children, improve the social climate of classrooms, and reduce related antisocial behaviors, such as vandalism and truancy.”
The Olweus Bullying Prevention Program has also been named a Blueprints Model Program by the Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence at the University of Colorado at Boulder, and is considered to be a Level 2 Program by the U.S. Department of Education by demonstrating a reduction of delinquency.
The proven curriculum allows students to play an integral role in creating a positive and enjoyable learning environment at Chilhowee and other schools.