The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction and the Children’s Health Education Center have partnered to create Bullyfree Basics, an online program for elementary school students that transforms lessons on the dangers of spreading rumors and insulting classmates into animated, interactive games, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. The collaboration is the latest development in DPI’s effort to address the humiliations suffered in hallways, on school buses, and–increasingly–on social networking web sites. Children and teens treating each other cruelly is nothing new, but what’s changed in recent years is educators’ sense of their own role in prevention, said Jon Hisgen, a health and physical education consultant at DPI. The idea that being bullied is an unavoidable part of growing up has faded, as adults have realized how much bullying interferes with students’ learning. Two years ago, Hisgen wrote a print-based curriculum specifically for third- and sixth-grade students. The agency brought in Milwaukee’s Children’s Health Education Center last year to create an online program for fourth- and fifth-graders as a way to both strengthen a culture of kindness in Wisconsin elementary schools and experiment with online delivery. The Children’s Hospital affiliate offers similar curricula on nutrition, body image, and tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs. "Online gives us the opportunity to educate them and then use the games to reinforce those messages," said Bridget Clementi, the organization’s director. "We find it works from the students’ standpoint more than sending an outreach educator or using an in-house educator to give those kinds of messages."
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