Crown Point principal attends national bullying conference

CROWN POINT - Nearly a quarter of American students are the victims of bullying.

It's a statistic that saddens, Elaine Dixon, principal at Crown Point Central School.

"When you see and hear the stories, how terrible they are, you never want anyone under your care to ever feel that way," Dixon said. "It's so very sad."

Dixon, a member of the North Country Coalition of Safe Schools, recently returned from a national conference on bullying in Orlando, Fla.

The three-day event left Dixon concerned about her students, but encouraged.

"I'd be naive to say bullying does not happen here (in Crown Point)," the principal said. " It happens in every school. It's an issue everyone is dealing with.

"But I am pleased that we're already doing a lot of the things the conference recommended for preventing bullying," she said. "I think we're ahead of other schools."

Crown Point is implementing the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program. It's named for Dr. Dan Olweus, a pioneer in research on bullying problems. His work, started in the 1970s, led to the development of a systematic approach to prevent bullying that is now used in more than 7,000 schools nationwide.

"The program is designed to ensure every students is treated with dignity and respect," Dixon said. "When bullying takes place a school has an obligation to intervene."

The first step in the program is to conduct a school-wide survey to determine views on bullying. Crown Point has completed the anonymous survey and is awaiting the results to be compiled by an outside group.

The results will be presented to school staff - including teachers, bus divers and custodians - March 25.

"This is a school-wide effort," Dixon said. "It's not just teachers and students, it's everyone."

The Olweus program is not a one-shot deal where schools learn about bullies and then continue on their way. Instead, the comprehensive program is meant to develop long-term changes. Dixon expects bullying complaints to increase in Crown Point as students become more aware of the issue, but over time the problem will diminish.

The North Country Coalition of Safe Schools was formed through the College For Every Student program. The coalition paid for Dixon and five other educators to attend the national conference.

The conference featured Kevin Jennings, U.S. deputy secretary of education.

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