Students, parents and school officials work to maintain a safe learning environment. However, bullying can crop up in even the tiniest of schools.

 


Students, parents and school officials work to maintain a safe learning environment. However, bullying can crop up in even the tiniest of schools.

In honor of National Youth Violence Prevention Week, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Sandy Garrett listed early warning signs that a child may be on the wrong path from the U.S. Department of Education in her March 18 column.

They are: antisocial behavior, excessive feelings of isolation, being the victim of violence and/or feelings of being bullied, low interest in school and poor grades, expression of violence and uncontrolled anger.

Dangers to students and unsafe school conditions can be reported to the statewide hotline anonymously at 1-877-SAFE-CAL, extension OK1 (1-877-723-3225, ext. 651).

Programs
Area schools have begun to adopt prevention programs to help counter bullying. For example, Turner School officials began implementing the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program in May.

“We know it’s never going to be 100 percent, but our students now get the concepts,” high school counselor Heather McMahon said.

A committee of school personnel, parents and a community member organize the program, which includes assemblies and posters to remind students of the rules and increased teacher presence in high-risk areas such as the playground.
“We’re now making stand-byers and instigators accountable,” McMahon said.
There is also a procedure for anonymous reporting that has received a good response.
“Kids are coming and reporting now because in the past they wouldn’t because they were scared to,” McMahon said.

Impact
Students have taken the lessons to heart. The middle school gifted and talented group has produced a skit to illustrate examples of bullying and its impact on students.

In February, they performed it for the elementary students, and now are planning to share it with other schools.

“It was kind of fun. The little kids watched, and it was a lot of pressure,” sixth-grader Allie Foster said.

However, she didn’t let the pressure take away from her goal.

“I hope they learn not to bully other kids to make themselves feel better,” Foster said. “You don’t want to grow up to be bullies because lots of people regret it.”

The skit also helped Foster understand bullying better.

“I learned that being a bully you look stupid and it makes you do things you regret. I hope I never act like that,” she said.