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8-7-12 North American Division Partners with La Sierra on Bullying Study
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Olweus Bullying Prevention Program to be offered in elementary and secondary schools

Bullying is most often an intentionally repeated aggressive behavior that involves an imbalance of power. A recent U.S. study has shown that 17 percent of all male and female students reported being bullied. This amounts to one in five students. The North American Division’s Office of Education sees this as in important issue and has partnered with La Sierra University’s Center for Conflict Resolution to offer the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program (OBPP) in its more than 1,000 elementary and secondary schools across the United States, Canada, Bermuda, and the Micronesian islands.
 
In the 1980s, Dr. Dan Olweus conducted the first systematic intervention study against bullying in the world. According to its website, the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program has more than 35 years of research and successful implementation all over the world. It is a whole-school program that has been proven to prevent or reduce bullying throughout a school setting.
 
Data from Olweus has shown that adults just aren’t aware of the various types of bullying that students are being subjected to. However, bullying takes place much more frequently and is missed by adults. “We think that because of the excellent student-to-teacher ratio we have in our small schools that there must be better supervision and management with issues of bullying,” said Richard Pershing, director of the Center for Conflict Resolution at La Sierra University in Riverside, Calif.
 
In working with OBPP, the Center for Conflict Resolution has designed a two-part survey that educators will offer their students asking whether they have been bullied or if they have been doing the bullying. The survey will also analyze where the activity could have occurred. Questions cover areas such as:
 
1. Verbal bullying including derogatory comments and bad names
2. Bullying through social exclusion or isolation
3. Physical bullying such as hitting, kicking, shoving, and spitting
4. Bullying through lies and false rumors
5. Having money or other things taken or damaged by students who bully
6. Being threatened or being forced to do things by students who bully
7. Racial bullying
8. Sexual bullying
9. Cyber bullying (via cell phone or Internet)
 
“Everyone wants to figure out the source of bullying,” said Pershing. It’s human nature. It’s about power and some of us are wired to enjoy the exercising of power.” Pershing believes that the entire community that supports the school – the constituents, school board, and parents – needs to be involved to level the playing field of abused power by the students. “Once the power has been leveled, then you can move into conflict resolution and teach the kids day to day conflict resolution,” he said. Conflict resolution training has been Beta tested at Madison Campus Elementary School in Tenn. and San Diego Adventist Academy in Calif.
 
Adventist Risk Management, Inc. (ARM), in partnership with several other Adventist organizations including the North American Division, launched The Seven Campaign: Stop Child Abuse Now at the NAD Teacher’s Convention where nearly 6,500 educators attended this week (August 5-8) in Nashville, Tenn. The NAD Office of Education also gave attendees a preview of the Olweus program.
 
In addition to having access and resources to advocacy programs dealing with abusive behaviors, the NAD Office of Education offered six breakout sessions (equaling eight hours of education in-service) at the Convention dealing with the issue of bullying.
 
Education officers in the local conferences are now reviewing the survey questions. The NAD Office of Education hopes to begin issuing surveys this coming Fall.

George Johnson Jr., communication director, North American Division, reporting
North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists
12501 Old Columbia Pike
Silver Spring, MD 20904-6600 USA
Telephone: 301-680-6400
Fax: 301-680-6464
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