Battle against bullying under way
Vail, CO Colorado
FRISCO ” Words are powerful. Anyone who survived middle school can attest to that.
So, during last week’s National No Name-Calling Week educators spent time getting students thinking about bullying and alternatives to taking their anger or insecurity on others.
Ashley Good began Friday morning by trying to her sixth graders aware of the impact they can have on each other. This was not the first time they talked about bullying this year, and Good says she has seen children stand up against bullying.
“I think that sixth grade is such a crucial time for them. They are trying to fit in and find themselves,” Good said. “It’s important when they are angry or having a problem not to take it out on another student and not to succumb to the social pressures of bullying.”
A novel entitled “The Misfits” by James Howe inspired No Name-Calling Week. It tells the story of best friends trying to survive seventh grade while being frequently taunted about their height, intelligence, weight, sexual orientation and gender expression.
“More than anything it’s a chance for us to lift up and recognize it’s important for kids to not be calling each other names,” said Julie McCluskie, Summit School District climate and communications coordinator. “When we raise awareness or get the kids talking … we start building on our values, the attitudes we want our kids to have, respect, integrity, tolerance.”
Through a bullying prevention grant, Summit schools conduct surveys with fifth, eighth and eleventh graders about the climate. Rumors, gossip, put-downs and talking behind each others back are areas they are concerned about, McCluskie said.
Stopping “labels and names we all faced at that age” will help the children become more caring students, she added.
Each school held different activities for No Name-Calling Week. At Summit Cove Elementary School, a high school student gave a lesson on the difference between harmless teasing and hurtful bullying, McCluskie said.
In Good’s class, sixth grader Jessica Langevin said she had her own encounter with bullying when a boy in one of her classes repeatedly called her names in Spanish while she tried to help him with his work. She told the teacher and he has since stopped “because I think he knows he is hurting people’s feelings,” Jessica said.
Fellow student Nicole Lande said she is glad they talk about bullying because the more students hear that it is wrong the less students do it.
“We’ve had a lot of new kids this year… some kids are a different race and some kids make fun of how they look and how they talk,” Nicole said. “My friends don’t bully people, and if we see something bad, lots of people will stand up.”
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