Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Area Schools Recognize National Bullying Prevention Month

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Area Schools Recognize National Bullying Prevention Month

Article excerpt

October is marked by Halloween and trick-or-treat, but it's also a time to recognize National Bullying Prevention Month. For many kids, there's nothing scarier than being bullied. An attack may be physical, such as being pushed or hit. It can also be verbal, such as being called names.

An attack can also be public, such as insults posted on social media with the intention to harm and humiliate another person.

In 2006, Parent Advocacy Coalition for Educational Rights (PACER), a nonprofit based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, founded the National Bullying Prevention Center.

Soon after, organizers created a campaign to generate more awareness on the topic by dedicating a week to educating students and parents on the different types of harassment.

With incident reports on the rise, awareness week has grown into a full month of programs to support children who have experienced bullying.

In Kanawha County, many schools take part in National Bullying Prevention Month by planning special events around Oct. 21, which is called "Unity Day. Falling on a Wednesday this year, Unity Day is observed to inspire students to make their schools safer.

At Weberwood Elementary School, guidance counselor Robin O'Brien incorporates bullying prevention lessons into her annual program on drug, alcohol and tobacco avoidance. Ribbons will be given to every student to highlight the theme of "Friends Don't Let Friends Bully or Do Drugs.

A spirit week has been planned to bring students together - such as hat day, crazy sock day, pajama day, and costume day. O'Brien also coordinates a "bucket filling program, which encourages students to give compliments instead of criticisms. The goal is to send "thank you or "thinking of you notes that bring positivity instead of tear kids down.

"There is a difference in someone being annoying, and someone truly bullying, O'Brien said. "We do see a small amount of it at the elementary level, but not as much due to the fact that children do not have access to personal devices at school.

In middle and high school, though, social media and electronic devices have taken over the world of teens, which takes teasing to a much more deliberate level. Between texting, isolation games, and social surveys, cyber-bullying has become a major problem.

Francine Thalheimer, a guidance counselor at John Adams Middle School, says that bullying can occur quietly and secretly. Gossip spread through smart phones and apps can cause severe emotional damage.

John Adams Middle School students will honor the month of awareness by "turning orange on Unity Day. Activities are being planned through the school's clubs to show students who have been bullied that people care.

In addition to wearing orange clothing and awareness ribbons, Thalheimer said that students must speak up to help put a stop to bullying.

"Students are reluctant to tell when they are being bullied or when they see others being bullied, she explained. "We work with students to help them become reporters, which also helps them identify the differences between tattling and informing, Thalheimer said.

PACER describes bullying as any act that purposely hurts another person on a repeated basis. …

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