JACKSON TWP — Bullying is pervasive in schools across the nation, and the Seneca Valley School District is using an award-winning program to combat it.
Superintendent Tracy Vitale updated the school board Monday night on Seneca Valley's Olweus Bullying Prevention Program, which was implemented districtwide in 2008.
The district is only one of several in the state that has implemented the program in every grade, as the Olweus program was designed primarily for students in grades K-8.
Vitale, along with her three assistant superintendents, gave a presentation to the school board about the techniques they're using to combat bullying on multiple fronts.
Every employee from the superintendent to bus drivers, cafeteria workers and secretaries are trained in the Olweus program, which is used by school districts across the world.
The administrators said the district attacks bullying at the individual, classroom, school and community level.
As part of the individual level, each student in the district listens to a 20-minute lesson each week about the harms of bullying and ways to prevent and fight it.
As Vitale said, the school district can never expect to completely rid itself of bullying. But that doesn't mean it isn't doing everything it can to fight it.
“We can't eradicate bullying,” she said. “But we can talk to kids about being advocates and standing up for themselves.”
The community level of the Olweus program involves training people like the Rev. Reid Moon, who is a school board member and school bus driver.
Moon said he remembered a time several years ago when the school board paid for a training session for pastors like himself, training that the clergy then took back to their congregations.
Vitale said she decided to update the school board in part because October is National Anti-Bullying Awareness Month.