If You're Not Worried about Bullying, You're Not Paying Attention
Living in a small town, our kids are often cushioned from urban problems. We often think bullying is a big problem in urban schools or those places with populations multiple times the number of residents in our county. Everyone knows everyone here, and kids rarely get into serious trouble because a simple phone call ensures that mom and/or dad know just about everything before they ever walk in the front door. Life feels secure and safe here, away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Here, mule deer jump the fence to steal a crabapple from your neighbor's tree.
I almost couldn’t believe it when I first read about bullying in Rangely's schools. I want to believe that our country-raised kids are immune to the effects of urban life. Sure, middle school is tough and full of drama, but bullying never raised a red flag for me, at least not here.
Just this week a young man's heartfelt question "Why Do They Bully" drew national attention. I still didn't think it would affect, to such a degree, my home.
.According to Jennifer Hill of The Herald Times, this issue began with a conflict over boys which resulted in notes left in lockers, one stating "stay away from our boyfriends you [expletive]." From there they only got worse until the notes called for suicide of a young lady.
However, our local principal Crandel Mergelman has already enacted measures to stop the incidents by taping over vents in lockers, limiting students in the hallways except during passing periods, and holding staff meetings to instruct staff on how to encourage an "atmosphere where students feel 'safe and comfortable.'"
The Rachel's Challenge program in November could not have come at a better time for our students. This young woman had, with her little acts of kindness, impacted those around her, even preventing a suicide before she was killed in the Columbine High School shooting on April 20, 1990.
The program came with a curriculum and leadership training for students and a Friends of Rachel Club was created in the schools. These programs will help students learn to intervene, help each other, and hopefully lift each other up as well.
These are big steps to helping our students, but they aren't the only steps needed. A lot of help can be started from home, More on that in a second post, 10 Things You Can Do To Help the Bullied and the Bullies.