Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Prevention reduces bullying in Scottsdale schools

Prevention reduces bullying in Scottsdale schools
Excerpt taken from The Arizona Republic Article by Emily Dean - May. 6, 2009

Prevention efforts are being credited with a steep drop in the number of bullying incidents at Scottsdale middle schools. In the past three years Scottsdale Unified School District eighth grade students who reported being picked on or bullied declined significantly from 21.5 percent in 2006 to 10.8 in 2008, according to the 2008 Arizona Youth Survey provided by the Arizona Criminal Justice Commission.

Dana Sherman, School Program Director for Scottsdale Prevention Institute, said this type of behavior can begin as early as elementary school. We all know these kids; they are the ones who have temper tantrums, refuse to listen and kick or hit others on the playground and generally disrupt the learning environment," she said.

Teaching kids anger management exercises such as clenching and unclenching their fists when they feel angry helps them release stress and can help them stop before acting out, Sherman said.

Milissa Sackos, Executive director of Student and Community Services for Scottsdale Unified School District, credited the decline in incidents of bullying to district prevention efforts. "It's very difficult to pinpoint a single program to contribute to the decrease," Sackos said. "Our main goal is to create a safe school environment."

Although instances are decreasing in Scottsdale schools, bullying, defined by the National Association of School Psychologists as "aggressive behaviors ranging from overt acts of physical violence to more subtle patterns of cruelty" is still a national concern.

According to a 2005 report by the U.S. Department of Education, 28 percent of students age 12 to 18 reported having been bullied in the previous six months on school grounds.
Ruby Alvarado Hernandez of the Arizona Prevention Resource Center said one in four children who bully will have a criminal record by the age of 20, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

Even though states are realizing the need for bullying prevention efforts, results are hard to track and it's often one of the first programs to face budget cuts, Alvarado Hernandez said. "Chances are it (bullying) will increase, not just because of the loss of SROs but the removal of social workers and counselors.”

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