According to a survey conducted this year by the state’s Department of Public Instruction (DPI), 22.5 percent of high school students said they had been bullied at school within the past 12 months.

Despite the increased focus on cyber bullying, Wisconsin is one of only six states that doesn’t have a state law banning bullying.

A special committee of state lawmakers, school district employees, police, and others who studied school safety last year recommended that a law be enacted requiring schools to either follow state anti-bullying guidelines or come up with their own.

A bill to do that awaits debate in the state Senate. The measure’s sponsor, Sen. John Lehman, D-Racine, said he expects it to pass the Legislature either later this year or next. Wide use of the new curriculum could meet the goals of the bill without there being a new law in place, Evers said. Nonetheless, DPI still supports requiring schools to have an anti-bullying policy, he said.

Both the curriculum and the law are needed, agreed Mary Bell, president of the Wisconsin Education Association Council. It will be difficult for teachers already pressed for time to work anti-bullying education into the curriculum, she acknowledged, adding that everything that can be done to prevent bullying needs to be pursued.

On Sept. 1, Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna and Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn, in partnership with the Entertainment Software Association Foundation and Web Wise Kids, launched a statewide program that uses video games to help students, teachers, and parents better understand safe use of the internet and other technology.

“The devices that kids love, from smart phones to computers, are also being used to subject them to cyber bullying, scams, and online stalkers,” McKenna said. “This program deploys a technology that’s very familiar to kids–video games–to teach important lessons about staying safe in cyberspace.”

More than 70 educators will learn how to use the Web Wise Kids program, which will be used in local school districts across Washington.

“The internet has become a vital tool in students’ education,” Dorn said. “But like all tools, kids need a rule book, one that helps them understand potential dangers. The Web Wise Kids program will give them valuable lessons on using the internet safely.”

The safety program includes a series of three customized video games–Missing, Mirror Image, and Air Dogs–all of which teach students how to be safe and responsible online.

The games teach kids to recognize and deal with online predators, modeling scams, cyber bullying, and other digital dangers. The games also provide warnings about the consequences of illegal downloading.


Web Wise Kids

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