CLEVELAND - The Cleveland Metropolitan School District and Facing History and Ourselves are taking a proactive approach to bullying.
An anti-bullying summit, called "Not on Our Watch," is taking place to help students understand exactly what bullying is and how they can deal with it. More that 700 Cleveland School students are taking part in CMSD's first comprehensive program to promote a learning environment free of bullying behavior.
The summit is comprised of students in grades seven to 12, who have been chosen by their school principals to participate in the program.
"You always start with promoting the right behaviors, preventing wrong behaviors," said CMSD CEO Eric Gordon. "Students are the most powerful voices for that by setting the culture they expect in their schools."
The summit kicked off last Friday when 700 students watched Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Lee Hirsch's 90-minute documentary "Bully" at the State Theatre. The film offers what Hirsch and others call "an intimate, unflinching look" at how bullying affected the lives of five children and their families. Hirsch attended the screening and discussed the documentary with students afterward.
CMSD's Humanware Department, with cooperation from Facing History, an international organization that supports teachers' effectiveness and promotes students' academic development and civic learning, are holding one-day seminars from Sept. 10 to 14 at the Barbara Byrd Bennett Development Center in Bratenahl.
Groups of 250 students will attend each day. During the seminar, they participate in frank discussions, role play exercises, and breakout sessions that help give them a better understanding of bullying, what it means, and its consequences. They will then return to their schools as teams and develop school activities that work to prevent bullying behavior.
"What they will do is work directly with their principal, their assistant principal and other staff members" said Denine Goolsby, of CMSD's Humanware Department, "to create a plan for their school, so each school will have an anti-bullying initiative that is personalized to their environment. "
For information about bullying, visit http://www.stopbullying.gov/.