GREENFIELD (WISH) — As schools start back up across Indiana, a small parochial school in Hancock County has added another subject to its curriculum: bullying prevention.
St. Michael’s Catholic School in Greenfield has become the latest in nearly a dozen Catholic schools across the state to implement the Olweus Bully Prevention Method.
The program’s administer at the school, Kimberly Ewing, said it’s a way to take a proactive approach to bullying by teaching students that they attend school in a bully-free zone. The school community, including teachers, parents and students, are taught and encouraged to keep it that way.
The idea is rather simple but “isn’t fixed overnight,” she said. It teaches children to recognize bullying and urges them not to be passive bystanders.
“How many of you want to help but were afraid to say something? Or did not know what to say?” Ewing asked an assembly of the school’s 280 children during a role-playing skit where a teacher pretended to bully another teacher.
Nearly every student raised a hand.
Ewing will spend the next year or longer checking in with the school, helping guide them to becoming a no bullying environment. Signs have been placed around the school encouraging students not to tolerate bullying, to warn adults if they witness it or to say something if they see a classmate is teased or being left out.
The program isn’t cheap. Ewing says the program can cost between $5,000 to $6,000 per school.
At parochial schools, where money flows from parish donations and tuition, the ability to allocate money to anti-bullying initiatives may be easier than public schools – where money comes in from tax dollars and can be controlled at the state and federal levels of government, Ewing admits.
However, she argues the long-term costs are worth it if it means helping a child create a better future for himself or herself.
One grandparent, who asked not to be identified because her grandchild had been victimized, said the child transferred to the school after being bullied elsewhere.
Ewing said she had given a presentation to IPS last year. A spokeswoman for IPS didn’t immediately respond to questions for comment. Nor did a spokesman for the state’s Department of Education.