Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Ohio board adopts policy about bullying during school

By Cindy Kranz
Enquirer staff writer

COLUMBUS - The State Board of Education Tuesday approved an anti-harassment/bullying policy in hopes of creating more positive school climates.

The Ohio Department of Education will provide schools with policies and strategies to eliminate negative behavior, as well as help schools identify and address issues such as bullying, intimidation and harassment that occur among students, groups of students and school personnel.

The department also will provide training opportunities to assist school staffs in developing strategies and practices to combat harassment and bullying. The state plans to collect data to determine the policy's impact.

In January, state education leaders discovered Ohio was one of 10 states without a school anti-harassment/bullying policy and started to take steps to develop one. Kentucky does not have a statewide policy.

"Not only does every school need a policy, but it's nice to know they're going to provide some of the resources for it," said Phil Hackett, principal of Greene Intermediate School in Blue Ash, which has a bullying prevention program. "This will be great to have it across the state, just to help every person in this situation. It will increase the level of awareness."

Greene's bullying prevention program has been in place about six years.

"When I heard there were 160,000 kids a day not coming to school because they have been bullied, I thought to myself, if I have just one kid in my school who feels that way, that's one too many."

The program, he said, has made a big difference. Students know bullying will not be tolerated, and they're sticking up for others who are being bullied.

"It's opened dialogue," Hackett said. "Is it eliminating every bully? No. I don't think there's a program out there that will do that."


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