Schools try to prevent bullying

Instead of devoting a lifetime to revenge against a playground bully, elementary schools in Moffat County are beginning a program to help stop bullying before it begins.

"We are starting a program focusing on kids treating each other with kindness," East Elementary School Counselor Amy Jones said.

According to Jones, the problem of bullying has become a hot topic since the Columbine High School killings in Littleton, Colo. Schools are focusing on early intervention and teaching students how to take responsibility for helping themselves and others.

The program, which also involves Ridgeview and Sunset elementary schools, aims to make the school environment safe for children, both physically and psychologically, according to Jones.

To kick off the program, East Elementary staff members performed a skit designed to deter students from teasing, as teasing is considered bullying. Faculty portrayed Berenstein Bears characters to relate to students.

Bullying is defined as any repetitive, negative action targeted at a specific victim and an imbalance of power so a victim can't defend himself or herself. In a case of bullying, the victim is usually very upset (may be manifested by withdrawal, outright crying and anguish, or anger), and the bully usually feels justified in his or her actions.

East Elementary has a schoolwide commitment to enforcing a no-bullying rule. School officials will intervene in all bullying situations and offer support to victims until they are able to learn strategies on their own. For bullies, this will mean confrontation and consequences.

"We want to support kids when they are in conflict," Jones said.

At East Elementary, Jones will speak to all students in the school about the effects and consequences of bullying behavior. She will speak to each class for about 30 minutes each week for three weeks.

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