The recent news of suicides tied to bullying near and far has opened the eyes of many people who want to prevent this from happening again. The Orchard Park School District is doing its part with a program called Olweus.
Olweus is a program that gives students an extended homeroom about once a week, where teachers and students talk about bullying and other important issues. Each student has the chance to talk about personal experiences involving bullying. The students don't say specific names, but the discussion gives them a chance to share feelings about bullying and other issues in a comfortable environment.
At one meeting, the classes were shown a video made by seniors showing a bullying scenario. There was a girl getting ridiculed because of what she was wearing. The bully had a follower who also made fun of the girl. The video showed people watching it happen but not saying anything. It showed someone who didn't care what was going on. Then it showed another girl who stood up for the girl getting bullied. The bully and follower walked away. The video showed that if a student sees bullying he/she should try to stop it, not be part of it or just watch it.
The video generated a discussion about verbal bullying and how to stop it.
Another meeting focused on cyberbullying. Students were told never to post anything hurtful online, because it never goes away. Also, students shouldn't comment on a post about someone, because it only makes the bullying worse. The bully will think others agree with him or her.
The Olweus program is also trying to make Orchard Park students more socially interactive with each other, and not exclusive or "cliquey."
At one of the meetings, the students and teachers did an icebreaker exercise. It was a way to get to know everyone in the homeroom. Some homerooms wrote on a piece of paper a bit of information about themselves that no one else knew. Then, chosen randomly, the information was shared and the students had to guess who wrote it. The students and teachers then had the chance to ask questions.
Other homerooms worked as a group to figure out riddles. Some did bullying skits where students acted as bullies, followers, defenders, targets, etc.
Many students at Orchard Park believe that the more meetings that are held, bullying will slowly come to an end, which is the main goal of Olweus.
Lizzie Kozoduj is a sophomore at Orchard Park High School.