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Cullman County schools prep for intense bully awareness trainingcomment (0)

January 5, 2012

By Sondra Washington


Cullman County schools prep for intense bully awareness training

A teenager committing suicide because of bullying made headlines in Alabama more than once in 2011. Each time, community members would cry out that something needed to be done.

The Cullman County Board of Education heard that cry and decided not to be another statistic. With the help of American Character Builders (ACB) material, it plans to stop bullying before it starts.

Hoping to avoid the extreme bullying incidents occurring in schools across the state and country, the north Alabama school system recently bought 15 The Bully Issue training kits and more than 1,500 additional student books from ACB, formerly known as Alabama Citizens Action Program’s (ALCAP) school program. This information will provide at least 2,000 students with information on how to deal with bullies properly and change the bullying climate in their classrooms and schools.

The purchase occurred after the school system’s fall community meetings during which ALCAP Executive Director Joe Godfrey presented anti-bullying information to school leaders and parents.

Superintendent Billy Coleman began organizing community meetings after he was hired last January. Each semester, meetings are held in the system’s seven school districts and focus on topics affecting the 29 schools and more than 9,700 students. This fall’s topic was bully prevention.

“We wanted to do more than just talk about bullying,” Coleman said. “We wanted to initiate some bully awareness in our school system. … I think too often, we wait until something gets really bad or a tragedy hits before we react to it. … I think prevention is the key to everything.”

Although he said Cullman County leaders are struggling to keep their schools in “the black” like most other school systems, they were able to utilize at-risk program funding to purchase the kits and additional booklets. Coleman added that they didn’t have enough money to purchase a kit for each school but many can share the information since some schools are on the same campus. Each kit contains a teacher’s guide, 30 student booklets and a CD with a PowerPoint presentation and pretests and post-tests to measure the program’s effectiveness.

Godfrey plans to deliver the kits and booklets to Coleman on Jan. 10.

“We are very excited to provide quality resource material to help with the bullying issue in Cullman County, and we would welcome the opportunity to any school system or individual schools looking for this kind of material,” Godfrey said. “We also would like to see churches take a leading role in addressing this issue.”

He encourages congregations to order the kits and use them to partner with nearby schools.

“The church could own it and [offer to] teach it in the school or pay to send [it] into the school,” Godfrey said. “We are hoping to have a Bible study to go along with the bullying kit by the first (part) of January. It’s in production right now. The whole thing will be contained on a CD with suggested learning activities.”

Other ACB kits include Alcohol — It’s a Killer; Saying NO to Meth, Marijuana and Cocaine; and Tobacco Awareness.

For more information, call ACB at 205-985-9529.

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