Indian Creek kicks off fight against bullying

WINTERSVILLE – Coordinators of an anti-bullying program at Indian Creek Local School District hope the program takes off as well as the balloons that were launched before the high school football game on Friday.

Indian Creek district personnel were trained during the summer in the OLWEUS bullying prevention program, according to Jamie Kovalski, district preschool coordinator. The program was created by Dan Olweus, a native of Sweden, who has spent more than 30 years researching the effects of bullying.

Students and pupils attending the game were given T-shirts and wristbands that contained the message “rock the skin you are in.” The event Friday was the official kickoff of the program.

Kovalski said the message is simple – raise awareness among pupils and students from pre-school through high school to react to and prevent bullying. The pupils and students will have weekly classroom meetings to place emphasis on the impact of bullying, ways to recognize it and the consequences of bullying behavior, she said. The children will be told to talk to teachers and staff about any problems, she said.

“It is a growing epidemic across the country. We wanted to find a way to be united as a district to take a stand,” Kovalski said.

Kovalski said there aren’t any serious problems with bullying in the district, just kids making fun of each other.

Kovalski said the district believed the OLWEUS program met the needs of the district.

Olweus came during the summer to provide training to teachers, school staff and bus drivers. Teachers were trained on how to identify bullying both in and out of school and how to report any incidents, Kovalski said.

The district had pupils and students complete a lengthy anonymous survey on bullying. The results will be analyzed by an outside source to help interpret the survey data and point out any problem areas, she said.

Kovalski said the district also is trying to get parents involved in the program.

“It always is a topic with the parents,” she said.

“This is a huge program and tonight is the first step,” she said.

John Rocchi, Indian Creek superintendent, said, “It is important to have the community support so we are all on the same page to extinguish bullying behavior.”

Kovalski said there will be quarterly and yearly events to push the message that bullying will not be accepted and to reward pupils and students for good behavior. McDonald’s will provide coupons for food and drinks throughout the year as a reward for good behavior, Kovalski said.

The students at the high school media club designed the logo for the T-shirts.