Anti-bullying program could expand to more Volusia Co. schools

Students in Volusia County are taking a stand against bullying, and Saturday, they got a nice check to help fight the problem.
No kid wants to be targeted by bullies.

"Pretty much it just brings you down and you don't want to do anything anymore," said elementary school student Caitlin Johnson.

She and her friends know how to handle it though.
"By telling them to back off and saying that they shouldn't be saying things like that to other people," said Jeniah Ramos.

Saturday, Volusia County schools got a check from the City of Deltona for more than $23,000 dollars for their anti-bullying programs.

Organizer Nick Pizza says they use the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program.

"It's a behavioral program that starts in the elementary schools, or even in the preschools. I can't change your behavior, but I can on a child," Pizza says.
It uses a data-driven system of student surveys and teacher training to identify and address bullying.

Educators, like Sean Richter, say it works.

"Universally we've been seeing a reduction of about 50-70 percent of bullying," said a Richter, a counselor at Southwestern Middle School. "Bullying will never disappear 100 percent, but seeing a reduction of 50 percent with schools that implement it with fidelity is amazing."

They currently use the program at five county schools and hope to expand it to eight more by the end of the year.

"This is important because the community needs to know that we need to join together in order to prevent bullying in our schools and give our kids the opportunity to have a safe place to get an education," Pizza said.