Walworth County schools stepping up efforts to deter bullying
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Students at Clarendon Avenue Elementary School in Mukwonago take part in a recent anti-bullying assembly. A new state law this year requires schools to implement anti-bullying programs. Terry Mayer/staff.
DELAVAN — Students in schools across Wisconsin this fall are the first classes under new state legislation designed to protect the victims of bullying.
In May, Gov. Jim Doyle signed into law Senate Bill 154 — initiated by a special committee on school safety — which includes an anti-bullying provision. Under the bill, a school district without a bullying policy is required to either craft one or adopt a model policy offered by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.
“Schools had some policies that addressed aggressive or assaultive behavior, but not necessarily bullying,” Fernan said. “The new legislation gives a definition and prohibition to bullying, and those changes lead to an expansion of policy.”
The Delavan-Darien School Board adopted a new anti-bullying policy in July, which is included in this year’s student handbook.
Mark Schmitt, principal of Delavan-Darien High School, said the revised policy is designed to clearly explain expected behavior of students in different situations, preventing bullying before it starts.
On Tuesday, students at St. Patrick’s Elementary School in Elkhorn will participate in a program called, “Anti-Bully: Facts and Fun!” Designed by Academic Entertainment, a national organization that creates school assembly programs on a variety of topics, the presentation uses games, role-playing with masks and comedy to talk about bullying behavior and anti-bullying techniques kids can use.
“We have talked to kids before on this issue, but several parents have requested that we do more than in the past and they’ve been asking for something like this,” said Julie Muellenbach, St. Patrick’s principal.
John Shanahan, principal of Clarendon Avenue Elementary School in Mukwonago, revealed that in a student survey taken a couple of years ago, about half the children said they’d experienced some form of bullying, generally taking place on a playground, at a bus stop or other area where there was little adult supervision. Most children said they told a parent, rather than a bus driver or teacher about the bullying.
Clarendon held an anti-bullying meeting for students last month that featured skits produced by the student council and a student pledge. Shanahan said the school regularly provides anti-bullying activities, and has long had policies in place to handle any incidents of harassment.
Read the full story in the Oct. 10, 2010 e-edition of Walworth County Sunday, HERE.