By Lt. Kevin Meyer
Years ago, school bullies had to get up close and personal to intimidate their fellow students. No more. Now, with sophisticated electronic tools at their disposal, a new arena of bullying has opened. Cyber-bullying occurs when students use their cell phones or computers to coerce or harass other students, either in the form of text messages, emails, blogs or social media such as Facebook and MySpace. So parents need to be alert to those forms of abuse as well. But whether it’s the old-fashion schoolyard tyrant or the 21st century cyber-bully, the atmosphere of fear they create not only disrupts the educational process, it frequently results in lasting damage to victims.
So we were very pleased to learn that this past September, the entire Seneca Valley school system adopted the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program, a program designed to identify risk factors, provide necessary adult intervention, and improve peer relations to create a positive learning environment. The Olweus program, which originated in Norway during the 1980s, has been refined and adapted to America where it is now in place at schools in every state. Members of the Cranberry Township Police Department were on hand for the program kick-off at both Haine and Rowan Schools to show our support for this important initiative.
As police officers and members of the Cranberry community, we know that the school environment needs to be a positive one for children to succeed. Bullying has no place in that setting. The Olweus program includes the formation of a coordinating committee and adoption of year-round, district-wide rules against bullying, as well as direct individual interventions. Schools which have adopted the program report a significant decrease in bullying among students, even within the program’s first months.
We look forward to working with school administrators, faculty, staff and students to see that this program is a great success here as well.