July 9, 2013

Sisters of Charity Foundation of Canton supports Olweus Bullying Prevention Program at Stark County schools

In recent years, the impact of bullying has become more understood and widely publicized. Several schools have implemented anti-bullying campaigns and held all-school assemblies; however, the degree of effectiveness of these efforts was not always apparent.

The Stark County Educational Service Center and Stark County parochial schools began to research a best-practice model to curb bullying and found the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program.

The Olweus Program (pronounced Ol-VEY-us) is a comprehensive, school-wide program designed and evaluated for use in elementary, middle, junior high and high schools. The program reduces bullying among children, improves the social climate of classrooms, and decreases related anti-social behaviors such as vandalism and truancy.

In August 2011, the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Canton committed $89,460 over three years to help the educational service center and the parochial schools implement the Olweus Program. Additional contributions from the service center and participating schools (both public and parochial) provided a total project budget of $198,460.

The service center and parochial schools continue to use these funds to develop a team of 16 trainers to assist in program implementation. Each trainer is responsible for coordinating a committee of 10-12 staff members at their schools to lead the program efforts.

The grant targeted 10, 20 and 30 schools respectively each year, beginning in 2011-12. The total of 60 schools – including 11 of 12 parochial elementaries – represents half of all Stark County schools.

The self-sustaining nature of the program is one of the strategic selling points of the collaboration. After year three, the materials and trainers will be in place with long-term support, and the hope is that a non-bullying culture will have been established in each school. In subsequent years, the service center’s bullying prevention program will be offered to all schools.

“We’re proud to invest in a program that’s collaborative in nature, especially because it will eventually impact every school in Stark County,” says Joni Close, president of the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Canton. “The program’s main goal was to reduce student reports of being bullied or bullying others by 50 percent or more. Although we don’t have that data available quite yet, I know we’re well on our way to making a difference in the lives of hundreds of students throughout the county,” adds Close.

The Sisters of Charity Foundation of Canton is a ministry of the Sisters of Charity Health System. Read more about the work of the foundation and its partners in the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Canton’s 2012 Annual Report to the Community.

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