Sioux Falls School District
Bullying Survivor
Male | Sioux Falls, SD   United States
Bullying program has an impact
Bullying Type: Physical / Emotional
Posted By: Needless
7/10/13 12:46 PM
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A program to stop bullying in Sioux Falls Schools is having an impact.

The district began the Olweus bully prevention program in 2011, and a spring student survey tells us most of the numbers are down. The program in Sioux Falls middle and elementary schools takes a team approach to bully prevention.

Bullying makes students feel unsafe, which can disrupt daily learning, contribute to lower self-esteem and eventually possibly even promote violence.

"Until we see signs it's not happening at all, our job will never be done. We want to be getting those numbers to zero, where no one is bullying and everyone knows what it is," Celeste Uthe-Burow with the Sioux Falls School District said.

Uthe-Burow says the good news is that the numbers are going down. Teachers, parents and even Sioux Falls School District students have been trying to tackle the bullying problem for a year now.

"A lot of times we find it's when there's an adult present or we find there's not even an opportunity. So we try to be diligent about finding those areas that might be weaknesses so bullying can't take place," Uthe-Burow said.

The survey asked elementary and middle school students questions about if and how many times they've been bullied in the previous months and weeks, if they've noticed friends being bullied and whether they tried to stop it.

In almost every instance, the numbers dropped from the program's 2011 start through the spring. The only instance with no decline was in students reporting bullying a few times a month. Uthe-Burow says the district also knows it needs to focus more on teaching bystanders to step in and say something to stop bullying, which she says isn't always easy considering students are always struggling to find their voices, especially in middle school.

"Try to figure out where their power is and how they fit in the world. So they try different behaviors out. And I believe that will continually go on and we need to have that tight parameter to teach them it isn't acceptable and you don't test parameters in this way," Uthe-Burow said.

Until everyone gets that, the work goes on in school and at home.

While the program hasn't moved into the high school curriculum, district officials say they are moving the principles into those halls too as the students move up. But high school bullying is much different, and takes other forms like Cyber bullying, which continues to be one issue they're still trying to address.

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