"Understanding Bullying" Program Reaches Thousands in New Hampshire
By Holly Young, Cooperative Extension
August 17, 2011
Nearly 70,000 New Hampshire parents, educators and professionals have received research-based information from UNH Cooperative Extension on effective strategies to combat bullying in the past year.
According to Malcolm Smith, Cooperative Extension family life and family policy specialist, Extension educators made a substantial positive impact on both the implementation of the New Hampshire legislature’s new anti-bullying law, and on the ability of parents and professionals to respond to what’s been called an epidemic of bullying and peer victimization by school children.
“At this point we have directly trained more than 20,000 educators, social workers, juvenile court professionals and parents on how to fight this epidemic,” said Smith, “And our ‘Understanding Bullying’ booklet has gone out to more than 50,000 New Hampshire parents. Our work has become an integral part of the lives of New Hampshire families.”
Smith and colleagues from both Cooperative Extension family and consumer resources staff and 4-H and youth development staff have presented parent forums, school in-service seminars, bus driver trainings, police officers and juvenile probation staff training, and have given major addresses on bullying at conferences and meetings across the state since late 2010. They have also trained more than 400 professionals to teach the program themselves.
Extension’s mission to improve the lives of New Hampshire families has been well served by this work, according to April Desrosiers, the safe and drug-free schools program director for the N.H. Dept. of Education.
“Thank goodness for Cooperative Extension,” she said, “They have been out front on both the creation of the new law that makes our students safer to selflessly taking the time to help everyone understand the importance and immensity of this issue among our students. I believe they have made our students safer, our families stronger, and saved lives in the process.”
Smith, along with Rick Alleva, 4-H youth development educator, Thom Linehan, family and consumer resource educator, and Jeff Frigon from the UNH Browne Center, is currently completing the next phase of Extension’s anti-bullying effort.
With funding from the N.H. Endowment for Health, they have created a program for middle school students called “The Courage to Care.” This program uses a unique combination of video, experiential activity, and meaningful group interaction to reduce the participant’s likelihood to participate in peer victimization. It will be tested in schools this fall.