What a terror some of our bullied students have been living. Some are in a classroom, quivering, ruminating or getting in trouble, fearing that they may be assaulted by a larger person for lunch money. Actually they could fear a whole group of assailants after them for no reason.
They shake, sweat and ask for frequent trips to the nurse — if they come to school at all. Most victims have a high absentee rate.
With so many kids actually driven to suicide, our efforts to stamp out bullying have been a nationwide project.
Some successful models are being used by school districts to stave off bullying.
As a classroom teacher for 28 years, I was able to witness some of those successes.
One school district’s plan is called Community Base whereby students most vulnerable for bullying are teamed up with buddy students as early as first grade.
Students with physical disabilities or psychological problems are assigned buddies.
Moderately disabled students have their non-disabled buddies in class with them, making sure they do not miss anything, especially in the way of organization.
Many buddies serve as tutors too. But the best feature is a natural insulation from bullying that occurs when a student has such a support system. With Community Base buddies, there is little incidence of bullying.
The non-disabled student agrees to give up study hall or library time for a lucky receiving student. The receiving student gets a buddy for each major subject.
Students from ninth grade on who volunteer receive a course credit.
The even greater byproduct of the plan is that the entire school district has a spirit of sensitivity and caring. If a glimmer of bullying presents itself, there are enough buddies to assist a student.
Another school district takes a more direct approach. Early in the school year, from fifth grade on, a police officer outlines for students what is considered a criminal infraction when provoking a fellow student.
The approach sounds harsh, but it is very effective.
A day in the life of a juvenile hall resident is described, and all eyes are on the presenter. Schools using this approach have few bullying problems.
There is much hope for stamping out what has become a serious issue for some students.
Sunny Cook Elm Hall Circle Summerville