Summit shares ideas for bullying prevention
Fifty people attended the Morgan County Schools Bullying Prevention Summit on May 5 and heard about bullying prevention efforts by school staff and students. Participants discussed possible ideas for solutions after the presentations.
School Superintendent David Banks said the purpose of the event was to share what schools are doing about bullying and to get feedback on their approach and how they could improve their efforts.
Public service announcements created by Paw Paw and Warm Springs Middle School students said bullying is mean. “Don’t just be a witness,” they pleaded.
A bullying prevention video stressed that together the community could stop bullying.
In her presentations Berkeley Springs High School student Catie Booth talked about how she and a student, who was bullying her, worked through their problems.
The two now get along.
They have been telling their story to sixth graders and have turned the experience into something positive, school sociall worker, Gary McDaniel said.
Student Katie Zakrzewski shared data from her science fair project about what types of bullying were most common.
Of 87 Berkeley Springs High School students surveyed, 80 said they had
experienced verbal bullying, 57 had been a victim of cyberbullying and 47 had been physically bullied in the last five
Assistant Principal Lance Fox plans to survey all high school students for additional information about where bullying is happening, such as in the hallways or on the bus.
All have experienced it
Middle school student Aidan McDaniel said all have experienced bullying and are involved, whether we see it happening, are the victim or are the bully. If everyone stood up for the person being bullied, it would be hard for someone to keep being a bully, he said.
McDaniel said he has been working as a peer mentor and helping someone who has been taunted about having long hair, a situation he has also been through and knows how to handle.
Middle school counselor Kristina Maslowski, social work intern Wendy Baracka and middle school students Brandon Krawczyk and Colton MacCumbee shared prevention strategies and role plays.
The school has support groups for kids that have behavior issues and that need help with anger management and social skills, Baracka said.
Krawczyk and MacCumbee shared how being involved in the groups and bullying prevention efforts has changed them. Krawczyk is now a peer group leader. Both of them intervene in bullying situations when they see them happening.
Warm Springs Intermediate students Brittany McCusker, Bryce McCoy and Samari Lane did role plays with puppets with counselor Matt Tolliver and talked about some of their experiences.
Tolliver said he’d had kids do 10 random acts of kindness after they’d been a bully to raise their empathy for others.
People don’t care about others when they bully, he said. Getting kids to care about their victims was important.
Work group ideas
Work groups suggested that more training for teachers and administrators, parent education and programs for kids were needed. Additional services were suggested for the high school.
Bullying and its legal penalties need to be better defined, said one group. Bullying is really harassment. The public should be educated about what is considered harassment or assault.
Putting the privacy setting to “friends only” on Facebook or other social networking sites was advised. By using the default privacy setting, everyone can see your personal profile, McDaniel said.
Calls call also be blocked on cell phones from specific telephone numbers if repeated negative messages are received.
Getting victims to tell an adult they trust, teaching kids how to not be a victim and having bystanders stand up and say “stop” when they see bullying, were ways to help put an end to bullying.
Peer action and kids getting involved are a prime part of the solution, Gary McDaniel said.
Kids would also run into bullying situations at jobs, on the freeway and in other situations.
“We’re teaching them skills for life,” he said.
The schools hope to hold another bullying prevention event and to get community members and groups working with them on the problem.
“It takes a community effort to stop bullying. It’s too pervasive,” McDaniel said.