School District and Community Connect and Create an Effective Plan to Decrease Bullying
whole Olweus program…
we followed each component
with fidelity, but we put
Dana Haukaas, Project Director
TCSD’s Office of Student Support and Intervention
In Todd County School District 66-1 (TCSD) in South Dakota, student surveys revealed high rates of bullying behavior. The surveys also made it clear that bullying was one of the main reasons that students skipped school and performed poorly in class. A broader assessment showed that gaps existed in collaboration between schools and the community.
With these data in hand—and following the Partner-Plan-Act process—Dana Haukaas, project director at TCSD’s Office of Student Support and Intervention, began to outline what it would take to effectively address bullying in Todd County.
Located within the boundaries of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe’s reservation, the community of Todd County is characterized by strong Lakota values—in school and out. Dana and her partners agreed that the Lakota Life Values (pictured above), which help create and maintain balance in all areas of life, needed to be at the core of the bullying prevention work they would implement—both to ensure that the work was meaningful to Tribal members and to bring the community together.
“We knew that to make this work, everybody had to be involved, and we had to use the Lakota Life Values to bridge the gap between school and community,” Dana explains.
After researching a number of bullying prevention approaches and programs, Todd County implemented the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program. Olweus was chosen in part because it emphasizes community involvement, which would allow Dana and her partners to connect major components of Olweus to the Lakota Life Values.
At community meetings, Dana explained how the program would both address bullying and benefit the community more broadly. The program would promote the traditional values and also connect community members with schools so they could share their perspectives on how best to integrate Lakota values into Olweus. Caregivers, Tribal officials, students, and teachers were informed about what bullying is and how it can be prevented using the Olweus approach. Community members could also help support Olweus by reinforcing the program’s expectations outside the classroom.
Working with Lakota community members, stories were drawn from Lakota literature and integrated into the program’s role-playing exercises. These stories—passed down from generation to generation—teach positive behaviors, such as helping one another and being a good friend, which are very much in line with the Olweus program.
Todd County’s thoughtful bullying prevention “roadmap” is proving successful; with baseline data, the district has been able to track a decrease in bullying incidents and suicide attempts—both of which had been significant problems in the community.