As bullying continues to be a problem at WGHS, administrators and staff prepare to go after the problem, hoping to maximize the school’s well-being. Dr. Jim Lane defines bullying at the high school level, adminstrators discuss programs that help prevent bullying, and they discuss bully awareness in student youths.
Bully awareness in student youths
With the growth of technology, teens have more access to the Internet. Some schools start teaching digital citizenship at grades as low as Kindergarten.
“When students are at a young age, it is important to teach them to recognize things that make them uncomfortable on the Internet,” said technology and information literacy coordinator, Gabrielle Corley.
“Through grades up until highschool, teachers bring awareness to topics like stranger danger, digital foot prints and cyber bullying,” said Corley.
Corley added that there are difficulties with bringing this awareness to high school students but is working on it.
Parent outreach programs also teach parents how to act if a child is bullied –arranged through P.T.O. meetings at the school.
Dr. Jim Lane said, “The school has a no-bully policy, but first we have to be aware that a situation exists before we can act –which is often the hardest step; victims are reluctant since a bully’s tactic is to have an implied threat.”
According to bullying.org, other children are watching 85 percent of the time when one child bullies another child. Adults, like teachers or parents, hardly ever see bullies act mean toward others.
The school also uses programs like netsmartz.org, a program of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
The site provides information to a variety issues on bullying for all age groups, and offers free internet safety presentations to educators with videos, lesson plans and teachable recipes.
“We need a line of response; someone to go to,” said Corley.
Psychologist defines bullying
Bullying occurs when a student is repeatedly harmed, psychologically and/or physically, by another student or a group of students, according to Dr. Jim Lane.
On October 6, Students as Allies discussed bullying with principals Jon Clark and John Raimondo. The students stated that “some bullies do not see themselves as bullies because they do not understand what bullying is.”
“Typically, bullies are interested in controlling others; they pick people to be victims because the look different from the rest of the student population,” said Dr. Jim Lane.
Lane added, “Bullies tend to act in public settings to reinforce attempts to gain control over their victim, in hopes to gain attention and power.”
When asked if there was a difference of bullying between genders, Lane said, “Bullies all have the same agenda; although, males bullies are more prone to use threats of physical intimidation, violence and attempting to put a label on someone to hurt them.”
“Female bullies also use threats of physical violence, but are more prone to spreading rumors and/or talking behind their victims back,” Lane said.
School offers bullying
“Some students here don’t really understand bullying,” said Students as Allies, who came to Webster two months ago to strengthen student-teacher relations.
Assistant principal John Raimondo is heading a committee to ensure that “everyone here feels safe at the school.”
Raimondo added, “Generally people feel safe here, according to surveys, but some don’t.”
The committee decides what responses are appropriate for bullying and shows how students can prevent bullying, who to contact if a student is aware of a bully-victim situation, and learn of the affects and consequences of it.
Several students said the Gay-Straight Alliance has made a difference at WGHS and in general they felt that “being gay here did not draw negative attention.”
According to the National Association of School Psychology, “One common misconception is that bullying is an unavoidable part of childhood and adolescence. Teachers and parents may not recognize certain behaviors as ‘bullying.’ However, there may be serious consequences to dismissing such detrimental behaviors as commonplace.”