Middle school one of the first in the nation to receive coveted bullying certification

The Governor Mifflin Middle School recently became one of only 12 schools in the United States to be recognized as an Olweus Bullying Prevention Program (OBPP) Certified School for 2013-2014 and 2014-2015. In addition, the Middle School has expanded its Safe Haven Program to include more local businesses in an effort to help prevent and deter bullying beyond school walls and throughout the greater Governor Mifflin community.

The OBPP is internationally identified as one of the top programs for helping schools effectively prevent bullying, while creating a positive psychosocial environment within the school. For the past three years, the Middle School faculty and staff, led by Associate Principal Scott Schwartz, have worked closely with an Olweus Certified Trainer to meet the stringent standards of the program, which requires bullying education and prevention to be fully integrated into the school’s daily routine. At the Middle School, ongoing efforts include class meetings, school-wide messaging and detailed reports by teachers and administrators.

“The Middle School faculty and staff have always felt strongly about creating an environment where every student feels safe and secure,” said Schwartz. “While we had continually strived to serve our students and provide a strong anti-bullying message, the Olweus program took those efforts to an elevated level. Receiving our certification is not only the culmination of several years of work toward our goal, but it also serves to strengthen our united front as a school and community standing up to bullying.”

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The OBPP was developed in Norway. Currently, the program is being piloted in the United States in Pennsylvania schools with funding made possible by the Highmark Foundation’s Healthy High 5 Initiative. Upon completion and collection of the required OBPP documentation and successful site visit, the Middle School received final approval for certification from the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program of the Institute of Family and Neighborhood Life at Clemson University.

Beyond the OBPP standards, the Governor Mifflin Middle School’s innovative Safe Haven Program was well-received by Olweus and is being considered as a model for other schools in Pennsylvania. The Safe Haven Program engages local businesses in the bullying-prevention effort. Businesses that agree to be a Safe Haven post a sign to identify themselves as a secure place for students who may have experienced bullying or a threat. Those businesses pledge to provide a phone and a place for students to wait until a parent or school official can be notified.

“We have been so pleased to see that so many of our neighboring businesses share our passion for keeping students safe,” Schwartz said.