Greendale School District comes forward with plan to fight bullying

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GREENDALE (WITI) -- The Greendale School District has come forward with a plan to fight bullying. This, after a "Bullying Task Force" was formed to research the bullying epidemic and create a solution. 

In late December, the task force released a report identifying three areas they say the community should focus on. This, after a bomb threat was made at Greendale High School in the fall by a student who claimed he was being bullied.

The task force, including students, teachers, parents, administrators and community leaders, got to work and identified these areas of focus: a parent and community education program, a student-led culture and climate program, and a staff development program.

Now, leaders say they believe creating change within the school starts with changing students' attitudes.

"The goal is for the students to take responsibility and not continue in that behavior. It needs to be staff driven and student driven and community and parent support is going to be key," Greendale Task Force Co-Chair Susan Castro said.

"If we can get enough students who are modeling great behaviors then I think it will spread," Superintendent John Tharp said.

Castro is a parent of six and helped lead the task force which discovered students would be more inclined to turn to one another rather than a parent or teacher, so the district has plans to train students to intervene and bring the bully and victim face-to-face to work through the problem.

"Children who are engaging in problematic behavior are much less likely to do so when they know there are students who are watching their behavior as well," Castro said.

School leaders say they feel the success of this program is also contingent on parents and the rest of the community. They say bullying is a learned behavior, and realize it is a problem continuing beyond school, with social media playing a large role.

"If they can work with administrators and staff and they can have a student-driven initiative, that it would be more effective in changing behavior," Castro said.

The Greendale School District is also welcoming outside groups to help in its efforts to fight back against bullying. In March, there will be an all school assembly where the movie "Bully" will be shown.