By Bonnie Arant Ertelt
Rodger Dinwiddie, recently named president of the International Bullying Prevention Association, never dreamed he would become an expert on the topic when he was a first-grade teacher at Tom Joy Elementary School in Nashville in the late ’70s.
Since 1986, as CEO of STARS (Students Taking a Right Stand), Dinwiddie has led the Middle Tennessee resource in providing prevention, intervention and treatment programs for youth, families and schools in the areas of substance abuse, violence and bullying. STARS partners with the Tennessee Department of Education to implement the Olweus [ol-VAY-us] Bullying Prevention program.
“It’s a research-based program developed in Norway by Dr. [Dan] Olweus, the leading researcher in the world on bullying,” Dinwiddie explains. “We’ve trained about a hundred people across the state to implement the Olweus program in their schools.”
More than 35 years of research show that schools using the program have seen a 50 percent or more reduction in student-reported bullying incidents. STARS collaborated with the Nashville Film Institute to develop a public service announcement about bullying. The PSA recently earned a regional Emmy nomination.
“[The PSA is] about helping young people stand up for those being bullied by others,” says Dinwiddie. “Its purpose was to focus on bystanders and help them do something for those involved in this insidious issue.”
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