UNH to experiment with antibullying program at middle schools
CONCORD, N.H. - Three rural school districts will serve as laboratories this fall for an experiment by a University of New Hampshire outreach program to fight bullying and peer pressure in middle schools.
The university’s nine-week “Courage to Care’’ program will encourage discussion and activities stemming from short films depicting everyday situations faced by students. The films feature students from across New England as actors.
The program is the brainchild of members of UNH’s Cooperative Extension program, with input from the school’s Browne Center, which developed outdoor adventure activities to emphasize teamwork and problem-solving skills, and the Department of Social Work. The curriculum has been helped by a federal grant of nearly $133,000 aimed at improving rural health and safety.
“We don’t even mention the word ‘bullying’ in the curriculum,’’ said Malcolm Smith, family life and policy specialist at UNH. “It’s really about school culture and climate.’’
Smith was part of a team of educators, parents, students, and others who worked on revising New Hampshire’s antibullying law last year for the electronic age, now that tools like Facebook and Twitter present opportunities for belittling and bullying.
The change allowed districts to step in “if the conduct interferes with a pupil’s educational opportunities or substantially disrupts the orderly operations of the school or school-sponsored activity or event.’’