Levine Academy offers proactive response to national problem of bullying
By Janis Peiser

There isn’t a week that goes by without news of another tragedy due to bullying. Children are being traumatized at best and taking their lives at worst due to the cruelty of their peers. This problem has grown in epidemic proportions and will continue to do so without early intervention by parents, organizations and schools.
The Ann and Nate Levine Academy takes bullying very seriously. Recently, its K–8 students attended an internationally acclaimed bullying prevention program called “The Power of One.” The program used skit-based anti-bullying performances to vividly illustrate physical bullying, exclusion bullying and cyberbullying. Students, as well as the actors, participated in playing the parts of the three principals of any bullying situation: the bully, the target and the bystanders. “It was strange that I was chosen to play the target in the skit because I have been bullied in real life,” said third-grade student Ethan Fine. “It felt real and it was not fun to be the target. The program seemed to work because I have not seen any bullying around the school.”
At the conclusion of the program, the students discovered that the “Power of One” meant that they, as individuals, possessed the power to stop bullying — they were obligated to get involved and prevent it from happening. Once they realized that they had the “Power of One,” they were asked to sign an oath and recite an oath to end bullying. “I am really happy everyone took the oath,” said fifth-grade student Courtney Rawitscher. “I hated going to school because I was bullied, but since the ‘Power of One’ performance, I haven’t been bullied and I now like coming to school.”
“We have a continuing responsibility to our families and the community to instill an understanding in our students of the impact of our words and actions on others,” said K–8 Principal Dr. Susie Wolbe. “We brought in ‘Challenge Day’ for our entire middle school long before it appeared on Oprah, we brought in ‘Rachel’s Challenge’ for our entire K–8 and now ‘The Power of One,’ again for our entire K-8. We do not bring in these groups and then forget about them; we keep a piece of each program and use them all to make an impression, along with our Ethical Covenant, on our students regarding our responsibility to our world.” Students at Levine Academy continue to have weekly Be the Change club meetings, and now they will have an opportunity to join an anti-bullying club, established by two lower-school students. “We will never be perfect but we will always give attention to the greater goal of being kind, supportive and respectful to one another.” Wolbe said.
The Ann and Nate Levine Academy, a Conservative Jewish day school, is located at 18011 Hillcrest Road in Far North Dallas.
Janis Peiser is the communications director at Levine Academy.

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  1. Sam R

    I was pleased, though quite surprised, to read of Levine Academy’s response to the problem of bullying that has become so pervasive throughout the country. Sadly, Levine, like many other schools, has had a long history of bullying behavior in their school. More disturbingly, though, the response to this behavior by the school’s administration has ranged from denial (or actually laughing off the allegations) to actually blaming the student or students being bullied, even when the bullying behavior has resulted in a younger student being injured by a group of older students.
    I noted while reading the article that there was no indication that the students’ parents were included in the program offered by the school. This is rather unfortunate since it is well documented that the attitudes that result in bullying in schools most often begin in the bully’s own home. Children generally don’t spontaneously develop biased or antagonistic attitudes toward other students who are somehow “different”. Rather, these attitudes are usually fostered in the child’s home, or among their peers. When a child hears his or her parent use derogatory terms to refer to others who are “different” whether racially, religiously, by sexual orientation or socio-economic background, it should come as no wonder that the child then mirrors these attitudes in their dealings with other students.
    While it disturbs me that bullying attitudes and behavior have existed, or worse have been allowed to become pervasive, in a Jewish day school, I see Levine Academy’s development of this program as a positive first step in addressing a serious problem. Yasher Koach.

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