TCAPS officials signed onto the program for three years. It mandates a weekly 20- to 40-minute lesson for students.
TCAPS is the first public school district in the five-county northwestern Michigan region to implement the program. The Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District hopes to eventually add the program, too.
“Any incident is too much, and we certainly we know through research that we need to have students in a state where they’re ready to learn,” said Jason Jeffrey, TBAISD’s assistant superintendent for general and career & technical education. “If they’re uncomfortable or experiencing a state of anxiety because of bullying or another issue, they’re not ready to learn.”
In the past, TCAPS’ anti-bullying efforts have been criticized as retroactive and inconsistently implemented. Administrators are optimistic the new program will be different.
“If we can -- through training and improving peer relationships -- develop a culture that’s more positive, not only will we reduce incidents of bullying, but we can stop them before they start,” said Jason Jeffrey, assistant superintendent for general and career & technical education at TBAISD.
Central High School social worker Diane Burden is hopeful the new program can reduce cyberbullying -- the use of social media to threaten or harass -- that emerged over the past few years. She’s already seen some instances of others standing up for victims.
“On Facebook someone might say something derogatory or rude or condescending to somebody else, and then another Facebook person that’s on that strand might interrupt and say, ‘that’s really not cool,’” Burden said.
Henrichs said he tries to intervene when he sees others targeted by bullies.
“When kids see something ... wrong, they should stand up,” Henrichs said. “If there’s someone where it’s just starting for them and they don’t know how to deal with it, it’s better it happens with me because I can go through the motion, rather than someone else.”