Their charge: dignity for all students

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District 30 has been using the Second Step program, which teaches children empathy skills and how to get along, for more than eight years, Pernick said. “We’re trying to teach children how to be ‘upstanders’ and how to help each other out when they see something,” she said, “and not to be a bystander and sit there and watch.”

Pernick also plans on hosting a workshop next school year for parents on cyberbullying. “We’re trying to really stress, especially to the parents, to please watch and monitor what your children are doing at home,” she said.

The Central High School District has had a bully reduction program since 2005, the same year it brought in the BRAVE program, Bully Reduction Anti-Violence Education, which is featured at each of the district’s four schools.

Jill Vogel, the district’s dignity coordinator, director of guidance and chief information officer, said the Dignity Act puts the emphasis on teaching civility, community and respect. In grades seven through 12, the district is teaching those principles through a program called Project Adventure, where students learn team building through the use of challenges. Project Adventure is being used in physical education classes.

Also, Vogel said, the district has focused on cyberbullying through its bully reduction program for the last three years. She added that the district would continue to expand its cyberbullying prevention to community members. Initially, Vogel said, she and her colleagues focused their bullying prevention for students in grades seven through nine, but have since expanded.

“What we first started focusing on junior high school we’re now really focusing an equal amount on high school and post-high school because that’s where a lot of [cyberbullying] is taking place with social media and texting,” she said.

Vogel is confident the district will be seeing results in the future. “By bringing this to the forefront,” she said, “by teaching and bringing in special programs, we have a shot at making this next generation more responsible for their actions and how harmful and hurtful they can be.”

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