Stop bullying: a new program in Indiana schools


What would you do if you found out your child was being bullied at school? It's a growing problem for parents and teachers, and Indiana hopes to lead the way as a model for a new program to stop bullying.

Westlane is among 10 schools in Washington Township taking part in a pilot program they hope will be the model for the state and the nation. It's more than an anti-bullying campaign, it is a culture change.

The idea: bullying affects not only the target of the attacks, but an entire classroom, even the entire school. This program, put on by BullySafe Indiana, offers an ongoing curriculum, involving everyone from administrators to students to parents to change the culture of the school by educating everyone about the effects of bullying, and how to handle the situations.

Westland Principal Linda Lawrence says change is critical. "It's really one of the most critical things we need to do, students need to feel safe in their environment. They learn better when they feel people around them care and take care of situations that could go terribly wrong," says Lawrence.

Defining bullying is a big part of the program, but organizers say it does have a big effect on everyone in school. What sets this program apart, says organizers, is that it is a comprehensive approach to bullying. It's something included in the curriculum, not just a one time seminar, but an ongoing program that involves everyone in the school family. Tracie Wells of BullySafe Indiana says it's not just the person being bullied who's affected.

"Studies show it affects the entire classroom. 70% of kids are witnesses but through the program they can increase test scores by 10% for everyone in the class because there isn't all that tension," says Wells.

Three teachers from each of 10 schools in Washington Township will go through the program, and bring it back to their schools. The hope is it will spread to all schools in Indiana and across the country.