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North Idaho Schools Launch Effort To Change Bullying Culture

Jessica Robinson
Northwest News Network

A north Idaho school district is launching a campaign to curb bullying. The effort includes curriculum changes and focus groups with a cross section of student cliques.

It’s a response to a spate of recent complaints from parents and students in Coeur d’Alene.

The district will bring in an anti-bullying expert this fall to conduct research in the schools and train students to intervene on behalf of bullied classmates.

Schools superintendent Matt Handelman says part of the problem is that teachers often don't know about the bullying – especially when it happens via cell phone or on social media.

“We know there are a lot of things that go on – students are either afraid of retaliation or feel like nothing will be done or nothing can be done," Handelman says. "And that's when you get in these downward spirals where kids can fall into depression and really not want to come to school.”

The district received grants from the Coeur d'Alene Tribe, the Kootenai Electric Trust and the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations -- which formed to counter the Aryan Nations' presence in north Idaho in the '80s and '90s.