2015-10-08 / Front Page

School system observes October as National Bullying Prevention Month


Students at LCMS are wearing blue shirts every Monday throughout October in observance of “National Bullying Prevention Month.” Proclaiming their stance against bullying are (seated, l-r) Wesley Cooke, Samantha Richmond, Shalik McCord, Jaquez Norman, (standing) Kendrick Mansion, Kolbi Ferguson, Vindravious Cunningham, Le’vion Lockhart, Cole Hopkins, Allen Raley, and Andrew Rodgers. Students at LCMS are wearing blue shirts every Monday throughout October in observance of “National Bullying Prevention Month.” Proclaiming their stance against bullying are (seated, l-r) Wesley Cooke, Samantha Richmond, Shalik McCord, Jaquez Norman, (standing) Kendrick Mansion, Kolbi Ferguson, Vindravious Cunningham, Le’vion Lockhart, Cole Hopkins, Allen Raley, and Andrew Rodgers. October is “National Bullying Prevention Month.”

The theme for the month is “The End of Bullying Begins with Me.”

Sponsored by PACER (Parent Advocacy Coalition for Educational Rights), the goal of the campaign is to unite communities nationwide to educate and raise awareness of bul­lying prevention.

Georgia House Bill 131 defines bullying as “any repeated and will­ful attempt or threat to inflict injury on another person, any intentional display of force such as would give the victim reason to fear or expect immediate bodily harm, or any intentional written, verbal, or physi­cal act, which a reasonable person would perceive as being intended to threaten, harass, or intimidate.”

The bill was later revised to in­clude cyber bullying, which is bul­lying that occurs through the use of technology (i.e. texting, emails, chat rooms, facebook, etc.). Moreover, schools are allowed to intervene even when the cyber bullying does not take place on school property.

There are five types of bullies: l Physical. l Verbal. This type of bullying may go unnoticed and unreported for long periods of time. l Relational. An individual works to damage the victim’s social status and relationships with others. l Reactive. The bully incessantly taunts a peer until the peer snaps and reacts with physical or verbal aggression. The reactive bully then claims that the peer was the cause of the problem.

Bullying can have devastating effects on a child including loss of self-esteem, increased anxiety, self-isolation, increased aggression, problems sleeping, depression, and suicidal ideation.

The child may also seek to avoid school, and his grades may drop.

According to Lindsay Dunn, counselor at LCES, “There are several myths about bullying such as teasing is not bullying, boys are the ones who bully, and physical aggression is the only kind of bul­lying. It is important to continuously educate ourselves and our children about bullying.”

Bullying behaviors can be much more complex and varied than his­torical stereotypes.

The counselor indicated that LCES uses a “Bullying Prevention Kit” from the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE); “Too Good for Violence,” a social learning program provided by the Mendez Foundation; and other resources to teach students about bullying.

In closing, Dunn said, “If you suspect bullying is taking place, please notify your child’s teacher, the principal, counselor, and/or encourage your child to talk to an adult whom he trusts.”

In her comments, Jeana Aycock, LCES principal, said, “We have had reports of bullying; however, bul­lying is not a widespread problem at LCES.

“If you suspect bullying, it is important to report it to the school immediately. The sooner we can investigate a situation, the sooner we can do our best to rectify the prob­lem and prevent future incidents.

“We take bullying very seriously and investigate each case.”

Addressing the subject of bul­lying, Patty Arthur, principal at LCMS, said, “Bullying isn’t a big issue for us, because when we detect or are made aware of problems we try and resolve them.

“Most of the time, bullying is a pattern of behavior rather than a one-time incident.”

She went on to explain that middle schoolers are constantly in a state of flux, with their thoughts, feelings, and loyalties shifting from one day to the next. “Most of all, they feel like nobody has ever walked in their shoes. Those in this age group experience dramatic changes as they search for who they are and where they belong.”

“Richard Bordeaux once said, ‘Identity is a patchwork of flesh, feelings, and ideas held together by the moment.’

“Then, bullying rears its ugly head,” the principal continued. “Bullying is a difficult issue to re­solve in the school setting, because most reports are not cut and dry, and oftentimes, teachers and administra­tors are not aware of problems.”

To help check this abusive behav­ior, students at LCMS read about bullying and have open conversa­tions about preventing it.

“We also strive to be proactive and deal with known issues before they become major problems,” said Principal Arthur.

She then offered parents the fol­lowing measures they can take to help their child through the tumultu­ous middle school years:

(1) Know who your child’s friends are and what they are doing.

(2) Monitor your child’s elec­tronic devices and the television shows he watches.

(3) Create a family time with­out distractions from any type of media.

(4) Talk to your child often and listen to him.

(5) Teach your child to be confi­dent in the individual he is becom­ing.

(6) Discipline your child when needed.

(7) Love you child uncondition­ally through these tough years.

Arthur further pointed out that “Keys to Help Stop Bullying” appeared in the school’s October newsletter. They are:

(1) Look the bully in the eye and tell him to stop.

Do not raise your voice, because this could provoke him to continue the bullying behavior to get a stron­ger reaction.

Also, tell an adult immediately.

(2) Avoid the situation.

Threatening to fight will only make matters worse.

(3) Know when to walk away.

If you are concerned about your safety, go to a teacher, counselor, or administrator you trust to handle the situation. Furthermore, avoid con­tact with the bully until steps have been taken to end the bullying.

(4) Do not respond to cyber bul­lying.

Save the evidence and block the bully. Also, change your account set­tings, so that it will be more difficult to find you online.

(5) Always report bullying.

In his remarks on bullying, Dr. Howie Gunby, principal at LCHS, said, “It is our goal at LCHS to have all of the facts from all parties before making a decision on whether bul­lying is the appropriate disciplinary infraction.

“We take bullying and disrespect very seriously at the high school. If a student is found to have bullied an individual or a group after we have completed our investigation, we as­sign the consequences approved by the local board of education.”

They appear below:

First Offense – ISS (In-School Suspension), 3-5 days.

Second Offense – ISS, 6-10 days.

Third Offense – 10 days suspen­sion and a report is made to law enforcement officials.

Administrators have flexibility to determine the consequences based on severity.

“At the high school, we ensure that teachers are in the halls during class changes,” the principal said. “Administrators monitor the halls as well to help detect bullying and other activities.

“If we know about a particular situation, we deal with it. If students feel they have been bullied, they are urged to speak to any adult in the building or come directly to an administrator.”

There were two incidences of bullying at the high school in 2013- 2014, one in 2014-2015, and one to date this year.

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