Ophelia's Place aims for statewide anti-bullying programs

Executive Director Verna Wise Matthews will be meeting with state lawmakers to discuss their programs geared towards preventing bullying and harassment.

Posted: Dec 12, 2018 8:56 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- The head of a nonprofit in Eugene is headed to the state capitol on Thursday to talk about preventing bullying.

Verna Wise Matthews with Ophelia's Place will show lawmakers what their organization has been doing in Lane and Linn counties.

A survey last year found almost 30 percent of middle schoolers in Oregon had been bullied within the last month.

She said they have several programs that have shown promising results in the schools they work in, including internet safety, healthy relationships, sexual harassment and conflict resolution.

"They reported less victimization as students, which is huge in this day-and-age," Matthews said. "And, the one that I really liked is that students felt more supported amongst their peers than in schools where we had not been."

Her ultimate goal is to show lawmakers why they should create a $6 million bi-annual fund.

"Which equates to $45 per middle school student in the state of Oregon, to provide funding that schools can write grants to ask for funding for programs like Ophelia's Place to help address the bullying and harrassment in their classroom," Matthews said.

Matthews said lawmakers know that bullying and harrassment are a hot topic right now, and they're interested in knowing about what Ophelia's Place is doing, how they're doing it and the impact they're having.

The bill that Matthews and lawmakers plan to present in January aims to help more organizations teach teens how to be safe from bullying in school and their communities across the entire state.

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