Dear Editor: I have been following the Bryan County News reports since November about the new bullying policy adopted by the Bryan County Board if Education in accordance with the Georgia law passed in May of 2010.
After reading the printed news articles and the bullying policy that the Bryan County schools handed out to students in recent weeks, I noticed it is largely focused on reactive measures. I understand this is because the new Georgia law requires it. However, has anyone thought about taking proactive measures through a bullying prevention program?
The martial arts association I belong to has partnered up with the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program to help spread the message about bullying prevention to our students and communities throughout the United States.
The Olweus website reads in part: “The Olweus Program is a comprehensive, school-wide program designed and evaluated for use in elementary, middle or junior high schools. The program’s goals are to reduce and prevent bullying problems among school children and to improve peer relations at school. 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. Schools are also gathering data about OBPP implementation at the high school level. The Olweus program has been implemented in more than a dozen countries around the world, and in thousands of schools in the United States.” http://www.clemson.edu/olweus/
My martial arts school’s curriculum includes lesson plans based on this program. As a martial arts instructor, often parents bring their children to me because their child is being bullied and they want them to feel they can “defend themselves.” Students are learning at my school that it starts with being educated on prevention.
I’ve encouraged my students and their parents to talk with their teachers and administrators about what we are doing in our classes. I’ve offered to make myself available for classroom visits – not as a representative of Olweus, but as a community figure educated on this subject wanting to share the lessons of prevention that my students are benefiting from.
I encourage the school board to look into the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program and for community leaders and members to support them in this effort. All of us can agree that being reactive to a problem, while necessary, doesn’t solve it.
If we can educate to help prevent the problem, then we change the education climate to empowerment, to being proactive, to building in our teachers, parents and students a greater sense of community and responsibility.
Chief Instructor, Owner
ATA Martial Arts