Bullying prevention the focus of Washington School District program

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Bullying in schools has always existed. For the modern-day student, the effects are the same, but the manner of bullying has changed.


“It’s not so much somebody in their face pushing them or anything in school, it is what’s happened outside of school through the Internet or through a text message,” said Teresa Booker, a Washington Junior High School special education teacher and advanced bullying prevention coordinator. “It’s more or less name-calling, a lot of it on Facebook. And then it does carry over into school because those kids are upset, so they’ll pick on them in school as well.”


Faculty at the school wanted to make sure their students knew that bullying of any kind would not be tolerated by holding an event April 17 called Peaceful Prexies. Along with Booker, who showed a Powerpoint presentation and video about the effects of bullying, Corrine Linck, a kindergarten through third-grade guidance counselor, played Bingo Bully with the students.


“I want to give them some background information on what a bully is, how to deal with bullies, and if you’re a bystander how you can help stop the bullying,” Booker said. “The goal tonight is to make the kids aware that we’re here to help them.”


The school has a committee that handles bullying when it is brought to its attention by the victim, other students, teachers or parents, said Booker. Intervention is then used to stop it by addressing both the person bullying and the victim.


“We try to catch it right away. We let them know we don’t tolerate it,” Booker said. “The victims usually seem to be much happier once they know someone is doing something about it.”


Isabel Marshall, 11, and Sophie Marshall, 8, children of Dana Shiller and Tom Marshall of East Washington, were among the students who participated in the event. Shiller said she thought the focus of the event was a good one. Their youngest daughter, Sophie, had been bullied when she was in kindergarten, but Shiller said it was resolved with help from a teacher.


“I really try to be as active as I can in my kids’ education, and I thought this topic sounded great,” said Shiller. “Just the idea of having a more peaceful family life and decreasing conflict, what parent couldn’t use help with that?”


In addition to helping students, the school also wanted to help parents understand more about bullying. To attain that goal, Joel Austin, president and chief executive officer of Daddy University Inc., spoke at the event.


“I do parenting education, so my job a lot of times is to give solutions to any problems that parents may have,” said Austin. “And one of the issues here is sometimes the actions that the students are doing. And if the students are doing anything, either positive or negative, it is a result of the parents.”


Austin works with parents to improve their behavior, because what they do is reflected by their children.


“If they come here with problems, and they’re saying their child does X, Y or Z, then I have to look at them and say, ‘This is what you should do to get rid of X, Y and Z.’ This is not what you should do to your child particularly, but once you change this way, the children will follow you,” said Austin.


A change in parents’ behavior is beneficial to students because some children who bully don’t even realize they doing so, said Booker. To help these students learn the effects of what they are doing, Booker promotes a simple yet golden rule.


“How would you want to be treated?” said Booker. “Think about how you want to be treated and that’s how you need to treat others.”


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