By David Carroll

CHATTANOOGA (WRCB)-  In response to numerous requests, complaints and concerns about bullying on school campuses, Hamilton County schools will implement a training program designed to stop bullying before it starts.  School officials say they're "being proactive about the school climate" in Hamilton County.  Here is a release from the Hamilton County Department of Education:

Hamilton County Schools are taking a proactive approach to foster healthy school climates throughout the district, implementing a program in many schools next year to reduce bullying and improve peer relations.

Hamilton County Department of Education, Students Taking A Right Stand (STARS), is working to provide the Olweus Program to several interested schools around the district. The Olweus program is a comprehensive, school-wide program designed to reduce and prevent bullying problems and improve peer relations at school. It has been found to diminish bullying among students, improve the social climate of classrooms and reduce vandalism and truancy. The program is currently offered at East Lake Academy with training set for Smith Elementary, CSAS, Hillcrest, Dalewood Middle, Loftis Middle and Red Bank Middle schools later this year.

"Bullying has received much attention in the media in recent months. We know we need to be proactive in how we handle these types of situations," said STARS Director Karen Glenn. "This behavior is not always obvious and may thrive in areas that are under supervised. The Olweus program will help address these issues and change school climates." 

STARS is the only program certified to provide Olweus training in Hamilton County. STARS will provide training that will assist interested schools in clearly defining the behavior and locations of occurrences while assisting schools in developing a plan to effectively address bullying.   

The Olweus Program begins with the school administration setting goals for the school.  The first phase includes training a core group of teachers (with representation from each grade level) along with a school counselor and an administrator.  Students are then surveyed anonymously about the climate on the campus, providing a clear picture of the grade level, gender, and places where inappropriate behavior is occurring.  The core group, with support from STARS, provides on-going training to staff members, parents, bus drivers, and other concerned adults about how to address and resolve the issues on the campus.