Juneau Launches Anti-Bullying Website as Student Groups Gather in Helena

Monday, April 30, 2012
By Allyson Hagen

Juneau Launches Anti-Bullying Website as Student Groups Gather
in Helena to Present Bully Prevention Projects

Helena, MT - Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau joined students from HOSA (Health Occupation Students of America) and FCCLA (Family, Career and Community Leaders of America) as they presented on bullying prevention projects carried out in their schools and communities with the support of 13 $2,000 grants from the Office of Public Instruction (OPI). In coordination with the student presentations, Superintendent Juneau launched a new website to provide tools and support for schools, students and families on bullying prevention.

"Empowering students to lead the way on school and community efforts to prevent bullying is an important strategy in bullying prevention," Superintendent Juneau said. "Peer to peer influence is an extremely powerful tool that will help us create safe learning spaces where every student is treated with dignity and respect."

HOSA and FCCLA groups from Scobey, Forsyth, Shepherd, Boulder, Valier, Three Forks, Kalispell, Absarokee, Billings, Ronan, Great Falls and Helena were recipients of the grants.  The students have developed projects that use anti-bullying lesson plans and teaching strategies in presentations to peers in their school district.  The chapter leaders have also made presentations that inform decision-making groups, health committees and school boards of the prevalence of bullying in their schools.

The OPI's YRBS (Youth Risk Behavior Survey) program provides an opportunity for student groups to apply for $2,000 mini-grants annually in proposals that use local, statewide and national YRBS data in efforts that increase awareness for health risk behaviors asked in the biennial survey conducted by the Centers for Prevention and Disease Control (CDC).

As part of her Graduation Matters Montana initiative, Superintendent Juneau has taken on the challenge of bullying prevention to ensure Montana students experience a positive school climate in order to reach their full potential in the classroom. Juneau supported Senate Bill 141 during the 2011 Legislature, which would have created common definitions and procedures for anti-bullying policies at Montana schools, including defining cyber-bullying. The bill passed the state Senate, but died in the House Education Committee. Montana is the only state in the country without anti-bullying legislation.

"I want parents and students to feel secure in knowing that no matter what school students attend or what town they grow up in, practical guidelines and protections that offer clear definitions and transparent procedures for investigations will be in place," said Juneau. "The Bully Free Montana website will be a resource for schools, students and families who are trying to address and prevent bullying."  

The 2011 Montana YRBS survey showed nearly 40% of junior high students and one fourth of high school students reported being bullied, and eighteen percent of junior high and high school students reported being cyber-bullied. Last year, 14,500 Montana students in grades six through 12 took My Voice surveys about school climate. Forty-one percent of those students said bullying is a problem in their school. 

Resources included on the Bully Free Montana website include: model policies and procedures for schools, what students can do if they are being bullied or cyber-bullied, tips for parents and ways to assess your school's effectiveness regarding bullying prevention and intervention.

Go to http://opi.mt.gov/bullyfree.


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