A new bullying prevention program is proving successful in classrooms around the state.
The Children's Hospital of Wisconsin created the Act Now! program and launched it statewide in 2010. Act Now! is an game-based interactive e-learning bullying prevention program for grades four through eight. More than 16,000 students in 72 schools were enrolled in ActNow! in the 2011-2012 school year.
Tina Flood is interim chief academic officer at Milwaukee Public Schools. She says the students enjoy the program because she says it's familiar.
"A lot of our teenagers, especially middle schoolers, are into online gaming," she says. "So the program actually has avatars the students can sort of set their own profile and get a specific look to each of them and then it has familiar icons, so you'll see for example a cell phone that helps them advance to different parts of the game. So, It's technology that they're familiar with, and I think that that helps them become very comfortable with using the program."
The game explains different behaviors such as what bullying is and what sexual harassment is and teaches students how to respond. Then Flood says students get to role play. "They're given scenarios and little situations where they have to make choices in terms of how they might react to a specific situation in terms of telling an adult, telling a teacher, parent, getting other people involved, walking away, how to diffuse situations," she says.
A sampling of results released Wednesday by the Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, the Department of Public Instruction, and Milwaukee Public Schools show that at MPS the Act Now! program reduced the number of students who were bullied by 31 percent. Statewide schools with staff training who use the program reduced the number of students who were bullied by more than 49 percent.
Flood says they plan to expand the Act Now! program to additional MPS schools.