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Bullying has become a major problem in schools around the country today. It is a problem that affects students at any age. In response, the New Albany and Union County School Districts want to be aggressive and implement a bully free program at the beginning of the next school year.
This program would supply teachers, faculty members, and administrators with curriculum, guidelines to go by and different ways on how to handle different kinds of bullying issues.
On Wednesday night, Allan L. Beane, Ph.D., former classroom teacher and an internationally recognized expert, speaker, and author on bullying, came to speak to school principals, faculty members, teachers, and administrators from New Albany and Union County schools about the definition of bullying, the nature of bullying, how to identify it, and how to prevent and stop bullying in schools.
New Albany School Superintendent Dr. Charles Garrett said, “My experience is this – however much I think kids are getting bullied, it’s a little bit more, however much principals think kids are getting bullied, it’s a little bit more, however much teachers think kids are getting bullied, it’s a little bit more, and however much students think kids are getting bullied, it’s a little bit more. We knew we wanted to do something significant in the district to address this bullying problem, so we went to a training workshop on bullying and learned a lot of good information.”
Union County School Superintendent Ken Basil said, “We need to all get a better understanding of what bullying is and how important it is for us to know more about.”
Beane defined bullying as this: Bullying is a form of aggressive behavior (physical, verbal, social, written, electronic, etc.) that is intentional, hurtful (physical and/or psychological) and persistent (repeated). Since there is an imbalance of strength (power), it is often threatening.
The types of bullying are direct, which may be physical or verbal or both, indirect, which is social and relational, and cyber bullying.
Beane said that on average, 20 percent of students are bullied, but only 10 percent of school personnel knows that they are being bullied.
“Students today face peer victimization, peer abuse, and bullying. There are kids so constantly mistreated on an every day basis for so long. Some of them are cutting themselves, shooting themselves, or shooting others. Bullying is robbing children of their childhood, which should be a time of happiness, but instead it is a time of fear and anger,” said Beane.
He told the administrators that in order to tackle this program it needs to be a school-wide effort.
“A moment of victory is what kids need. We have responsibility for all the kids in our school system. I believe in the Golden Rule, which is to treat others the way you want to be treated. We’ve waged war on bullying and hope that you will to,” said Beane.
“When they steal your name from you, you feel like nobody. Name calling is a big deal and needs to be dealt with. Be careful of minimizing things you see. Be careful of making light of a situation and trying to be funny,” said Beane.
He said that if a student is bullied up until the fifth grade, there is a 30 percent chance he or she will be bullied for five more years.
Beane said that unsupervised areas are the areas in which bullying takes place the most, like in the hallways between class, at the lockers, in the cafeterias, in stairwells, on the playground, in the parking lots, etc.
“You can open yourself to a lawsuit if there are times when students are unsupervised. I urge you to develop a supervision plan. Structure helps with control and supervision,” said Beane.
“Students may feel embarrassed or ashamed to admit that they are being bullied, but students need caring, understanding, listening, and needs a safe place where the students can go and tell the truth,” said Beane.
He finished the presentation by telling the audience that bullying is more prevalent today and is in a more serious form. There are numerous lawsuits and criminal cases stemming from bullying today.
“The strongest kids I have ever met are the ones that put up with this crap for years. The weakest ones I ever met were the ones mistreating others,” said Beane.
Beane told the audience that his son Curtis was bullied for years and after high school graduation, he got involved with the wrong crowd and overdosed on meth amphetamines.
He told the crowd, “You have been given a beautiful gift in your children, but you don’t know how long you have that gift, so enjoy it.”
He ended the program by saying, “I dare you, I challenge you to make your schools bully free. Take a stand. Lend a hand. Stop bullying now.”
For more information, go to www.bullyfree.com.