Program to abate bullying adopted

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COLUMBIA --- South Carolina schools this week are launching an internationally recognized anti-bullying program that educates teachers, parents and students on how to identify and stem behavior that experts say adults too often overlook as a rite of passage.

Two dozen schools will use the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program in a pilot program coordinated by the state Association of School Administrators. A three-day training seminar for teachers starts Tuesday in Greenville. Once certified, those teachers will implement the program at their schools and train the rest of staff.

All 13 schools in Spartanburg District 6 are participating in the pilot program, as are all schools in Anderson 4. Others are in Spartanburg 3 and Sumter 17. An official announcement on schools selected for the pilot program is set for Thursday.

The Olweus program -- developed by a Norwegian psychology professor in the 1980s -- begins with students taking an anonymous online survey about bullying in their school so intervention efforts can be targeted.

Those surveys, which will be taken and evaluated three times, cost the pilot schools nothing but normally cost $1 per survey, said Sue Limber, the U.S. training director for Olweus, based at Clemson University's Institute on Family and Neighborhood Life.

Nationwide, one in six students in grades six through 10 say they're bullied several times a month; nearly one in five students report being the bully at least sometimes, according to a 2001 Olweus study.

Spartanburg 6 Superintendent Darryl Owings said he's wanted to implement the Olweus program for a couple of years. While his district has anti-bullying policies, it lacked a systemic approach.

"We don't have any type of magnified problem of any kind, but just about every student is touched by it one way or the other," he said.


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