Schools’ anti-bullying program takes hold

Reports of bullying have declined at the high school level in School District 51.

But that may not be because less bullying is occurring.

Thirty-eight incidents of bullying were reported in District 51 high schools in the first semester of the 2008-09 school year. That figure decreased to 35 in the first half of the following year and to 33 so far this school year.

The numbers are imperfect, though, said District 51 Prevention Coordinator Cathy Haller, because some people are unsure of how to classify different events and decide which ones constitute bullying. Also, kids sometimes don’t report being bullied or seeing another student bullied.

At the elementary school level, incidents of bullying increased from 13 in the first semester of 2008-09 to 18 in the first semester of 2009-10. In middle school, bullying reports decreased from 86 to 41 in the same time period, but reports are up so far this school year to 49.

These numbers, too, can be deceiving.

“I wouldn’t say bullying is on the rise, I’d say awareness is on the rise,” Haller said.

Haller said the district’s Positive Behavior Support system, which encourages students to avoid negative actions at school, has purchased bully prevention materials and tasked each school with creating an action plan for bully-proofing activities. Haller said there will also be a bully-proofing workshop hosted by the district in April.


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