EARLY YEARS: October is National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month
Orange handprint murals, other activities marking the month at Westside Elementary School in Roanoke
ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - A mural of orange student handprints of all sizes now decks the halls of Westside Elementary School.
The activity was part of Promoting Unity Day at the school. It was one of many raising awareness about bullying.
And these kids learned some valuable lessons on what to do if they spot a bully.
”You’re supposed to tell an adult or tell somebody who you trust what’s going on, so they can inform an adult from the school,” says fourth grader Kalise Flood.
There are 746 students who attend Westside.
School officials say while the pandemic impacted instruction, it had no real impact on bullying incidents.
Sherri Ambrose is the Community Liaison for Westside Elementary. She says, “To be very honest, I think it’s probably pretty consistent. This is not a new problem to Westside, just like it isn’t to other schools.”
Fourth grader David Curry says he’s been the victim of bullying.
“I’ve been spooked, and also hit,” says Curry.
Other students we spoke with say they’ve witnessed bullying.
“Like, them not playing with them, or them just hurting them, throwing them in a locker and locking them in, and on the playground,” says fifth grader Davan Claytor.
Fellow fifth grader Julius Scott, Jr. says “One time I did see a kid getting bullied. I helped him out, because he told me he didn’t have any friends.”
Westside Elementary, like other schools, is working to promote an understanding of what bullying is.
”It’s more than just hitting or pushing. There are so many other types like verbal, social. We talk about cyber bullying. We know they’re online on social media. So, we just wanted to educate them and help empower our students,” says Westside Elementary social worker Courtney Smith.
By putting a spotlight on the issue, school leaders are hoping this will begin a dialogue that will last all year.
“And instead of bullying, what we are trying to do is promote kindness, accept others and include others,” says Ambrose.
Adds Curry, “Be careful with what you say, because you could hurt their feelings.”
Click this link for more information on National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month.
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