The Princeton School District is going the extra mile to ensure students at the middle school are educated in what they feel is a safe environment.
Princeton Middle School, which already has a strong anti-bullying program in place, will be implementing the renowned Olweus Bullying Prevention Program with a goal of improving student relations, making the school safer, and creating a more positive environment for the students to learn in.
The program is being funded in part by the Shopko Foundation, which contributed $2,500 to the anti-bullying campaign upon the opening of the new Shopko Hometown store earlier this month in Princeton.
The Olweus Bullying Prevention Program is administered by the Hazelden Foundation, the nonprofit organization based in Center City that is best known for its alcohol and drug treatment facilities. The organization has branched off into other preventative programs, as well, with one being anti-bullying efforts. The program was developed by Dan Olweus of Norway, who authored much of the program’s curriculum. The program has 35 years of research behind it and has been implemented throughout the world, according to the Hazelden Foundation.
“Bullying occurs at every school and we have in place lots of measures to curb it,” said Dan Voce, Princeton Middle School Principal.
The Olweus program is one more of those resources, Voce said.
The middle school was targeted because research and data show that it’s at the middle school age that bullying occurs first, Voce said. The Olweus program is integrated into the school’s homeroom curriculum and implemented throughout the school year in the classroom setting, he said.
“The goal is to teach our students what bullying is, what we can do to prevent it, and what options are available to students in cases where they are being bullied,” Voce said.
The program also is aimed at defining for the student the difference between being bullied and being picked on.
“Students, parents and the community should understand the difference between bullying and what is not bullying,” Voce said.
Bullying, he said, is an act repeated over time that is unwanted by the person on the receiving end of the action. A one-time act against a person is not bullying.
Implementation of Olweus will begin in August with a Hazelden Foundation training team’s arrival in Princeton to work with a group of middle school staff. Those staff members will then train the school staff as a whole on the Olweus curriculum, Voce said.
“We’ve taken a lot of steps to address bullying at the middle school. I see Olweus as an additional step that prevents incidents so students can come to school and learn in a safe environment,” Voce said.