One central Indiana school district is trying to stop bullying with a program thats gaining recognition across the country.
The Washington Township School District has become the first one in the state to adopt a districtwide anti-bulling campaign by tapping a nationally recognized expert to spearhead the program.
With 930 students, Westlane Middle School is a melting pot of races and religions, which could create a cultural storm for students from different backgrounds, RTV6's Jack Rinehart
Students and teachers learned on Monday how to recognize different forms of bullying and words that can inflict pain and hurt.
"Some friends of mine have (been bullied) because they come from different religions and races. Some of them have accents, and they get made fun of for that," sixth-grader Sammy Lee said.
SuEllen Fried, founder of BullySafe USA, said bullying takes a huge toll on students social skills and can have leave life-long impressions.
"I think kids are desperate to have a voice about the pain and the cruelty that's going on. I think that we have got to listen, Fried said.
Experts said as many as 160,000 students stay home from school every day because theyre afraid of being bullied, and bullies are more likely to grow up with criminal records.
School officials said that social media has become the most pervasive and most hurtful form of bullying because it gives the bully anonymity.
Westlane Principal Linda Lawrence wants her students to know that they have the power to fight back.
"Can we curtail (bullying)? Yes. Can we eliminate it? I don't know. Because we're human beings, part of our nature isn't always nice, Lawrence said.
Fried urged parents to talk to their children about their school activities and their circle of friends.
Washington Township officials said that they dont expect bullying to become obsolete, but they are working to educate more students about it.
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