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Equipping schools to create bully free cultures

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bout 20 percent of U.S. students between the ages of 12-18 have experienced bullying in some form. Bullying affects everyone involved and is linked to negative physical, emotional, academic and mental health issues. Purdue’s Multicultural Efforts to end Sexual Assault (MESA) is determined to help prevent bullying by guiding youth and teachers to model kindness and respect for all.

With the support of a Student, Teachers and Officers Preventing (STOP) School Violence grant from the Department of Justice and the National Center for School Safety, MESA will provide Second Step: Bullying Prevention curriculum to 48 Indiana rural and high poverty schools at no charge. The curriculum includes age appropriate instruction for K-5 students and helps schools develop and implement a school-wide bullying prevention program through reporting documents and policies to ensure a bully-free culture.

“The Second Step curriculum is a scientifically research-based curriculum that teaches everyone from administrators to the children the definition of bullying, responsive strategies and reporting procedures. This program empowers kids who are bystanders to be assertive, but in a polite, respectful way to help stand up for others,” said Sherri Cripe, MESA school bullying prevention director.

 “The bullying prevention program provides an opportunity for all students and staff at Tri-County Intermediate School with training and awareness of the implications bullying can have on a person as well as ways to prevent and handle bullying in our school and community,” said Brian Hagan, principal at Tri-County Intermediate School. “Our entire school is on the same page and understands we must all work as a cohesive team to provide students with a safe environment where bullying is not tolerated.”         

Cripe is seeking additional school partnerships in rural counties with high poverty or marginalized students.

“We will also support training on how to address students who are marginalized, whether that’s because of gender identity, socio-economic, intellectual disparity, race or something else,” added Cripe. “MESA works for empowerment and that is what we are doing with this program and others. Empowering youth and adults to prevent violence through research-based strategies.”

MESA, an engagement program in the Agricultural Sciences Education and Communication Department at Purdue, seeks to prevent sexual and other violence in under-served and traditionally marginalized communities.

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