Incidents of bullying are down within the Oxford school district since the implementation of the Olweus Bullying Prevention program six years ago, according to questionnaires answered by students.
Denise Sweat, assistant superintendent of student services, and Dean of Oxford High School Pam Fine presented the highlights from data collected via voluntary student-answered questionnaires distributed last fall.
The questionnaire looked at each student’s experience with bullying — whether they are being bullied, bully others, where bullying occurs and the most common ways in which bullying occurs.
The presentation also compared that data to national averages.
Every school, except for Leonard Elementary, fell below the national average in reports of bullying. The surveys were last issued in 2011 for comparison.
Twenty-four percent of students at Leonard Elementary reported two or more instances of bullying a month, around 4 percent more than the national average.
At OHS, the number of students who reported being bullied “two to three times per month or more” has dropped 9 percent since 2011. A total of 16 percent of students, falling below the national average of 20 percent, reported having two or more instances of bullying.
Eight percent of students at Oxford Middle School reported being bullied, 9 percent fewer than were reported in the 2011 surveys.
At Clear Lake Elementary, the number of bullied students dropped from 18 percent in 2011 to just 9 percent.
While this was the first year students at Oxford Elementary (OES), Leonard Elementary and Lakeville Elementary answered the questionnaire, reports of bullying at Lakeville and OES fell below the national average.
“We’re so very proud of the results,” said Sweat, who noted the results highlighted the success of the anti-bullying program.
The district implemented the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program for students in grades 4-12 in 2011. It was created by Swedish psychologist Dan Olweus more than 35 years ago. The program focuses on reducing existing bullying problems, preventing new bullying problems and achieving better peer relations at school.
At the elementary level, students reported the playground, bus and lunchroom to be places where bullying occurred most.
Middle school and high school students reported hallways and after-school hours to be where bullying happens most.
“The answer to (bullying) is almost always increased supervision (in those areas),” added Fine.