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March 01, 2012 05:03 PM

SF School District Expands Bully Prevention

We've shown you the Olweus Bully Prevention Program, which has been implemented in Sioux Falls School District Elementary and Middle Schools. Now starting on Thursday, a similar program is kicking off in the district's high schools to make sure all students know what bullying is and how to stop it.

Bullying, which comes in many forms, is something most high school students are aware of.

"It definitely exists, without a doubt," Washington High School Junior Dan Schmidtman said.

"A lot of it can be under the surface," Washington High School Junior Nicole Grinager said.

Because it exists, the district is working to combat the problem. Starting Thursday, Sioux Falls high schools, like Washington, are putting bully prevention programs in place.

"There's no question it's something we wish we could say we've eliminated entirely; obviously that hasn't happened," Washington High School Principal Jamie Nold said.

Over the next several months, the schools will work toward that goal. Students will learn how to identify bullying and fight to stop it.

"Anytime we can be clear in communication with what we mean by bullying, it's always going to be a benefit," Sioux Falls School District Student Support Services Coordinator Celeste Uthe-Burow said.

The program in the high schools is not an exact replica of the Olweus model in the elementary and middle schools because there was no national model for the high school level. Instead, it's more of a hybrid program.

"We are trying to stay consistent with the terminology and the language.  What do you do, who do you report to.  If you see it, what can you do now; can you intervene," Nold said.

The district has already seen success in younger grade levels.  Administrators are hoping that's also the case in the high schools.

"We hope what will happen from this is that they'd be able to make sure their education isn't interfered with academically because of some kind of conflict with another student or students," Uthe-Burow said.

Students are confident it will make a difference.

"The kids that are being bullied will know it's ok that they can talk to some people; hopefully the kids who are doing the bullying will get the message to stop it," Grinager said.

The district will be doing surveys with students and staff periodically to see how the program is working.

They say having some form of bully prevention training in high school will help teach the kids about conflict resolution, which will come in handy in the workforce.

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