This October is the ninth annual National Bullying Prevention Month, and all Indianapolis Public Schools are invested in creating positive learning environments for students.

National Bullying Prevention month started in 1986 as National Bullying Prevention Week, expanding to a full month in 2010. It was started by the PACER (Parent Advocacy Coalition for Educational Rights) Center to move away from the clichéd attitudes of seeing bullying as something everyone goes through that toughens them up to an awareness of the real consequences bullying can have—depression, low self-esteem, and school avoidance.

Sergeant Floyd Peterson of the IPS police department has seen those consequences up close in the eight years he has addressed bullying education in IPS classrooms. At the end of his sessions, he gives students “the opportunity to make things right, right here, right now”—to reflect on if they’ve been a target of bullying, or have bullied someone else.

Sgt. Peterson noted that self-admission is key. “The rest of the class can then hold them accountable going forward.” Such change doesn’t happen overnight, he said, and “you might need help to do it.” Teachers and peers can provide that help after the initial admission is made.

Our schools are helping change bullying behavior in different positive ways:

  • At Wendell Phillips School 63, October writing prompts throughout all grades will be on bullying.
  • A number of schools including SUPER School 19, Center for Inquiry School 2, Center for Inquiry School 84 and George Washington Carver School 87 are providing bullying education through the Social Health Association of Indiana.
  • At Louis B. Russell School 48, Title I Behavioral Interventionist Jennifer Love is using a program called Step Up for Kindness, which comes with resources for teachers, assessments and surveys. “It is a customized version of the evidence-based Bully Prevention Curriculum,” she said. 
  • Schools like CFI School 84 and William Penn School 49 have made reporting easier with forms and a confidential box that anyone can use.
  • James A. Garfield School 31 Social Worker Michele Whaley said their school will have a Peace March in late October to celebrate creating “a culture that embraces problem solving without violence.”
  • SUPER School 19 is presenting anti-bullying training at their monthly parent breakfast.

And Tracy Pruitt, Coordinator of Support Services for IPS, noted the district supplies bullying training year-round for staff, students and volunteers. And this year “we have one reporting form for everybody in the district and a district-wide timeline of how things proceed from the initial report,” Pruitt said, ensuring consistent and quick action should bullying occur.

IPS is proud of the work our students, teachers, staff and parents all do every day to make our schools a positive and uplifting place to learn.