Greenport schools launch new monthly anti-bullying program

10/07/2013 3:00 PM |
JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO |

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Greenport High School principal Leonard Skuggevik presented Monday the district’s new anti-bullying program called Olweus.

The Greenport School District has launched a new program in which students will meet monthly to discuss anti-bullying methods.

Students gathered Monday morning in the auditorium where high school principal Leonard Skuggevik presented the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program, a national program aimed at raising awareness about bullying.

Mr. Skuggevik said the North Fork Alliance funded the program and Greenport teachers have received Olweus training. All students in grades K-12 will meet once a month during their second period classes to go over the program and discuss how to handle real-life bullying situations. Second-period teachers will also act as anti-bullying mentors, Mr. Skuggevik said.

Although the district is pleased with the anti-bullying assemblies it has had over the past few years, including last year’s Rachel’s Challenge program, Mr. Skuggevik said he believes the new monthly arrangement will reinforce the anti-bullying message to students, because they will meet regularly to discuss the issue instead of only learning about it once a year.

The school remains focused on teaching students about the dangers of bullying, he said, even though the district has only experienced about a handful of incidents in recent years involving cyberbullying or confrontations between students.

“It’s something we want to be preventative about,” Mr. Skuggevik said after his presentation. “Just because we’re not getting a lot of it, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be making sure it doesn’t happen at all.”

During his presentation, Mr. Skuggevik told his personal story about how his family moved a lot when he was growing up and how difficult it was for him to attend five different high schools in one year. He then asked his students to not let a fellow classmate sit by himself or herself during lunch, explaining how he felt “horrible” in that situation not knowing anyone in a new school and having to sit alone.

Mr. Skuggevik also told students they will learn how to identify bullying through the program and asked students to reach out to an adult if they don’t feel comfortable confronting a bully themselves.

“You might think you’re just joking around with a friend by saying something to them all of the time and you think it’s funny because he laughs,” Mr. Skuggevik said. “Well, sometimes we laugh because we don’t want to cry.”

jennifer@timesreview.com