FARRELL, PA. Stopping bullies before they start

Four rules of bullying prevention are posted throughout the school.
FARRELL, Pa. -- The young people clapped and swayed to the beat as they sang along to a song titled "We All Need Attitude Adjustment."
Attitude adjustment is what the assembly at Farrell Elementary School was all about Friday as the school kicked off a bullying prevention program.
"Our purpose is to stop bullying. It's that simple," said Sgt. Dan Oster of Southwest Mercer County Regional Police. Oster is the school resource officer at Farrell, replacing Riley Smoot, who was recently named Southwest Regional's police chief. Smoot was the driving force behind the program, Oster said.
It's not that there's a particular problem in Farrell, he said, but bullying can occur without people realizing or even recognizing it.
This program is designed to teach children to prevent bullying at the elementary level in hopes that they will carry that behavior through high school and beyond, Oster said.
It fits in with the school code of conduct and the safe school program, said Carole Borkowski, assistant elementary principal.
Setting up the program
Selected members of the staff went to program seminars to see how it works and came back with a very positive attitude, Borkowski said.
The school then brought in bullying prevention specialists from Family-Child Resources Inc. in York, Pa., to conduct training for teachers; pupils in first through sixth grades participated in a logo-designing contest.
Alise Alexander, a fifth-grader, created the winning logo for the program and was presented with a plaque. The logo design shows two hands meeting in friendship.
Oster said the program covers kindergarten through sixth grade. Most cases of bullying will be handled by teachers, but they will report persistent problems to a committee of school staff members that oversees the program.
That committee will have the authority to recommend discipline for repeat offenders, Oster said.
The four rules of bullying prevention are placed in each classroom, the hallways and even the restrooms. Children are urged to do their part to end the practice.
The program held a meeting to inform parents about its goals, Oster said. Parents will also get a letter outlining the program, including a list of things they can do to help children being bullied or doing the bullying, he said.