Bullying Prevention

  • Elkhart Community Schools is a bully-free zone, providing students with a comfortable and safe learning environment. The district uses the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program to teach students appropriate behavior in school hallways, classrooms, playgrounds, lunchrooms, and other areas that students congregate.
  • Our students are also taught appropriate ways to respond to a bully, and how to help a classmate that is being bullied.
  • To report actual incidents of bullying, including threats, students and parents, can visit: http://report.sprigeo.com/district/elkhart-community-schools. It is helpful if users provide as much detail about the incident as possible, including names of target, person with bullying behavior, and witnesses, date, time, and location of the incident, and what types of bullying occurred. The report will be sent directly to the school administrator at the building where the bullying took place. A copy of the report will also be sent to Mary Yoder Holsopple, the district’s bullying prevention coordinator. A Sprigeo report can be completed anonymously.

 

  • Understanding Bullying:
    • A student is being bullied when he or she is exposed, repeatedly and over time, to negative actions on the part of one or more students. Bullying implies an imbalance in power or strength.
    • It is important to understand the difference between a conflict and bullying behavior. A conflict is a disagreement or antagonism between two or more people. All parties involved have some responsibility in the encounter. Conflict resolution strategies can be employed to find common ground because both parties have a vested interest in resolving the conflict. Bullying is abuse and needs to be reported as such.
    • Bullying can take forms such as:
      • Hitting or punching (physical bullying)
      • Name calling (verbal bullying)
      • Intimidation through gestures, social exclusion, threats, or spreading rumors (indirect bullying)
      • Intentional and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computers, cell phones and other electronic devices (cyber bullying)

 

  • Elements of Olweus Bullying Prevention Program
    • Train all personnel in the prevention and intervention of bullying situations
    • Develop school rules against bullying
    • Post and discuss these bully rules
    • Incorporate bully themes into the curriculum
    • Teach appropriate intervention strategies to empower bystanders in regularly scheduled class meetings
    • Increase supervision in “hot spots” for bullying
    • Intervene on the spot when bullying occurs
    • Use consistent positive consequences for appropriate bystander behavior and negative consequences for inappropriate behavior
    • Hold follow-up discussions for bullies and students who are bullied
    • Share information with staff
    • Involve parents of the students involved

 

  • What To Do If Your Child is Being Bullied
    • Never tell your child to ignore the bullying
    • Don’t blame your child for the bullying, don’t assume your child did something to provoke it
    • Allow your child to talk about his or her bullying experiences, write down what is shared
    • Empathize with your child; tell him or her that bullying is wrong, that it is not his or her fault, and that you are glad he or she had the courage to tell you about it
    • If you disagree with how your child handled the bullying situation, don’t criticize him or her; it is often very difficult for children to know how best to respond
    • Do not encourage physical retaliation.
    • Check your emotions; a parent’s protective instincts stir strong emotions; although it is difficult, step back and consider the next steps carefully
    • Contact a teacher, school counselor, or principal at your school immediately and share your concerns about the bullying that your child experienced
    • Work closely with school personnel to help solve the problem
    • Encourage your child to develop interests and hobbies that will help build resiliency in difficult situations like bullying
    • Encourage your child to make contact with friendly students in his or her class, or help your child meet new friends outside of school
    • Teach your child safety strategies, such as how to seek help from an adult
    • If you or your child need additional assistance, seek help from a school counselor and/or mental health professional

 

  • What To Do If Your Child Witnesses Bullying
    • Teach your child how to get help without getting hurt
    • Encourage your child to verbally intervene if it is safe to do so by saying such things as “Cool it! This isn’t going to solve anything”
    • Tell your child not to cheer on or even quietly watch bullying; this only encourages a child who bullies – who wants to be the center of attention
    • Help your child support others who tend to be bullied
    • Teach your child to include these children in activities
    • Praise and reward “quiet acts of courage” where your child tried to do the right thing to stop bullying, even if he or she was not successful

 

This month’s copy of The Elkhart Way, Elkhart Community Schools’ employee information newsletter about positive classroom reinforcement and bullying prevention can be found here. The previous edition can be found here.