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U of U Faculty and Students Promoting Ways to Address Bullying Behavior

March 31, 2006 — Conventional advice is: “Just ignore the bully. Then she will stop.” But there may be elements to mean behavior that are hard to ignore-taunting, verbal and physical aggression, repeated and more intense occurrences.

According to national studies, bullying seems to be a fairly common experience in elementary, middle and high schools-and one that can leave lasting, even lifelong scars.

In an effort to prevent students from having to endure bullying behavior, the University of Utah’s Department of Educational Psychology and the Jordan School District will present an informational meeting titled “Bullyproofing Schools: The Daybreak Experience,” on Monday, Apr. 3, from 4 until 6 p.m., at Daybreak Elementary School, 4544 W. Harvest Moon Drive, off of the Bangerter Highway and 11400 S., in South Jordan. Members of the community, Daybreak parents and other interested individuals are invited to attend the free event.

Students and faculty from the U’s School Psychology Program will share initial results of a bully prevention program implemented at Daybreak Elementary School in Kennecott Land’s Daybreak community. The presentation is a progress report of sorts for the community on an initiative that places U faculty and students in a variety of roles and activities based on the interests of the community. One of the clear needs identified by Daybreak Elementary teachers and parents, prior to its official opening last September, was a desire to focus on prevention activities and clear guidelines to deal with bullying behaviors.

Dan Olympia, an assistant professor in the U’s Department of Educational Psychology, within the College of Education, notes that many schools across the country are attempting to promote a wide range of positive behaviors by building prevention programs-to end manipulative, negative and down right mean behavior.

Olympia and three University advanced graduate students have been working with Doree Strauss, Daybreak Elementary School principal, Christine Winward, Daybreak”s school psychologist, teachers and playground monitors, to field test the BullyBlockers prevention and intervention curriculum for first through sixth grades at the school. The curriculum, developed by school psychologists and U graduates, is based on helping elementary students develop an awareness of bullying behaviors, understanding how bullies, victims and bystanders become involved in problem behaviors and learning specific strategies to manage and counteract those behaviors.

“There is a lot of interest in helping children to develop skills to diffuse bullying,” says Olympia. “We try to help children understand that even if they are just observing bullying there are things they can do to intervene-they can divert the bully’s attention, offer to walk with the person who is being bullied or offer the student standing alone the opportunity to join a group or get involved in an activity.”

Olympia says it is also important for children to know when to ask for adult help, when it is required and to not hesitate if they are dealing with a situation that occurs repeatedly over time. He says parents need to listen to their children, notice their behaviors and know when to intervene appropriately.

For more information on Monday night’s presentation, call 801-581-8221.