TUSCALOOSA, Alabama -- Tuscaloosa City Schools want to end bullying in the system's 24 schools by implementing a program designed to teach students to recognize and safely intervene.
Harassment Awareness Learning Together (aka HALT) will debut at the start of the 2012-2013 school year. The initiative is the result of a collaborative effort among teachers, administrators, students, parents and community leaders which was organized last spring, according to TCS.
The program consists of an awareness campaign, surveys, monthly events and comprehensive curriculum on bullying prevention. This week, teachers, counselors and bus drivers were trained on how to implement the program in their respective areas.
TCS released statistics that show 160,000 students miss school daily across the U.S. due to bully-related issues. During the 2011-2012 school year, the TCS saw 122 reported cases of bullying and 81 reported cases of harassment that resulted in out-of-school suspensions.
Vickie Brown, director of student services, says that by implementing a system-wide initiative to address the area of bullying, TCS hopes to ensure students at all schools share a common language and access to resources to bully-proof their schools.
On the first day of school this year, students will be introduced to a visual imagery of the HALT initiative including posters on buses and throughout the schools. An educational video will also promote and educate students on anti-bullying measures.
Students will also be asked to sign pledge cards and attend an assembly to introduce all students to the HALT initiative.
In April, TCS formed an anti-bullying task force to develop an action plan that will address bullying across the district's schools. Administrators, teachers, counselors, students, parents and community leaders will be part of the task force.
Alabama passed an anti-bullying law, the Alabama Student Harassment Prevention Act, in 2009 and required all public school districts to pass anti-bullying and harassment policies in 2010.
Last year, Alabama's state Education Department launched their Stop Bullying in Alabama website that offers resources for students, parents and teachers trying to deal with bullying.