Archive for Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Schools work out plans to get tough on bullying

June 21, 2005


For 8-year-old Trevaun Ross, the bullies are the big kids, a group of fifth- and sixth-graders at his school.

"They always push people around and boss them around," said Trevaun, a second-grader at New York School. "One time, they just pulled me off the slide" at recess.

Two Lawrence schools are cracking down on bullying, an issue taken more seriously after the Columbine school killings. Some connected the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., to a bullying problem.

Langston Hughes and Woodlawn schools this summer are planning new ways to combat what officials say is an all too common problem. About 50 teachers, staff and parents from both schools on Monday started the first day of a two-day seminar with Randy Wiler, director of the Kansas Bullying Prevention Awareness Program.

"We definitely take bullying a lot more seriously these days," Langston Hughes Principal Lisa Williams said. "I would hope that kids will feel safe all the time at school."

The program was offered to several schools, but Langston Hughes and Woodlawn were the only ones to accept the offer and have staff agree to attend the summer seminar, said Sandee Crowther, the district's planning and program improvement executive director.

Both schools surveyed students and got unsettling results. Thirty to 50 percent of Langston Hughes students in grades three through six reported recently being bullied. At Woodlawn, the statistics ranged from 24 to 46 percent. The figures are reported over a range because the questionnaire asked multiple questions on the subject, officials said.

Woodlawn Principal Joni Appleman said she wasn't particularly surprised by the survey findings.

"I knew there were some issues going on," she said.

Bullying differs from the typical student spat because it's intentional, repeated and involves one kid wielding power over another, according to the Kansas Bullying Prevention Awareness Program.

School officials and others say it is disruptive for both the bully and the bullied.

"It just is really detrimental to kids," said Carla Saathoff, mother of four children, including two at Langston Hughes.

Laura Chaney's daughter was once bullied by a boy at a private school. It was one factor in Chaney's decision to pull her child out of school.

The boy would say inappropriate things to her daughter, Chaney said. The young girl grew frustrated by the constant badgering and would vent after school.

"She would actually get in the car and start screaming at me," Chaney said. "She was just really upset."

Chaney's daughter now takes classes at Lawrence Virtual School.

Teachers and parents often struggle with how to deal with bullying. Appleman said even she was guilty of misidentifying a situation or using the wrong approach.

Appleman said she hoped the seminar would enable Woodlawn School staff to tackle problems with a uniform system. Among the suggested solutions: class meetings and journals.

Teachers could have class meetings for 20 to 40 minutes a week to discuss problems, such as bullying. Students also could write their thoughts in journals that the teacher could read and respond to. Staff for both schools will draw up strategic plans today.

But as the schools grapple with the issue, some say parental involvement is key.

"You have to keep probing and be persistent," said Kellee Schmid, mother of two Woodlawn School students. "You can't be a checked-out parent ... I think bullying has always been around. I think it will always be around."

Eight-year-old Trevaun said he thought his bullies once were bullied themselves.

"They think that's the way to treat people," he said. "It doesn't change my school experience. I love school."


Richard Heckler 13 years ago

Cliques and bullies both have very mean aspects which for at least 55 years have beat "accepted". Unfortunately some parents will write it off as part of growing up.

I too have been on both sides until I realized how stupid it was being mean to people. Not only that others did not respect bullies. When my parents began getting calls from parents that was the end of it. Size is not always a prerequisite.

Peace,love,tranquility and repect for others begins at home.

kubbfan1 13 years ago

Eudora is the worst school for bullying. The high school principle doesn't take any action to prevent, stop and discipline the bullies in that school. My son, broke up with his girlfriend, she started getting a bunch of guys to bully my son and it got SO bad we had to take him out of school and send him to Lawrence. He couldn't concentrate or do anything in school without threats, racial slurs or pointing and laughter every day. Now he's doing better, he's happier and his grades have improved. If any school in Douglas County needs help it's Eudora High School and the principle needs to be involved in stopping the problems instead of worrying about the "athletes".

This project needs to reach beyond Lawrence and go into the surrounding areas - Eudora.

happy_me 13 years ago

Eudora has ALWAYS been that way and nothing will change it!! They are a bunch of hicks that think that is the way it is supossed to be. Oh and did I Mention how prejudist they are!! In Eudora they have the attitude "If you ain't white you ain't right"

Ragingbear 13 years ago

I will tell you who is the most responsible for bullies on the playground. The teachers. When I was in school, not only did I see teachers look the other way on a majority of bullying, but I actually saw some teachers put bullies up to "teaching kids a lesson" on problem students. Gym coaches are among the worst, but all teachers are responsible. They then go on to "teach" us how to handle bullies. They tell us to walk away. I remember how I got paddled once in a role-playing excersize where I was the bully. As the other kid turned around to walk away, I kicked him in the back of the knees, and knocked him down. Got in trouble, but showed a point.

As adults, if we are assaulted, or harrassed, we have legal protection. However, if we are children, then we pretty much have to have a broken bone or punctured spleen in order to get a teacher to even yell at a bully.

You want to end it, assign a few people to go around tormenting the teachers for a few month, follow them home, call them with threats, and not allow anyone to do anything about it. Then the much needed change can take place, and not before.

raven 13 years ago

I disagree with happy_me's and bbfan's views of Eudora. bbfan, I am sorry about what happened to your son but I too am from Eudora and never had any problems. I felt Jr. High was worse than high school. Happy_me are you from Eudora?

tell_it_like_it_is 13 years ago

Go Ragingbear!! Hell the kid that picked on my kid last year was a damn teachers kid! When my kid had finally been pushed enough and popped him one who do you think got in trouble? Sure wasn't her kid! And then they wonder why kids hate school. Go figure! Sorry I don't have much use for teachers.

Ragingbear 13 years ago

I was a bit of a problem student, relatively disruptive(discovered recently that I got ADD pretty bad). A kid jumped out at me between class and broke my nose in front of witnesses who told the principle that I was innocent. I got suspended for 2 weeks. The other kid got punished by writing "I will not fight in school" a hundred times. He also got by on that one by being able to write it by computer. It's downright horrid about the favoritism, and the games that teachers play with our kids. Then they go around wondering how Columbine type things have it. Heck, I nearly snapped right before I dropped out.

mltetbnc 12 years, 10 months ago

I had to pull a child from Sunflower Elem school due to inaction on the part of the principal and staff. My son was not only being bullied but had a death threat. The solution was to pull my son from the situation where he was being bullied, leaving the boy who was doing the bullying in the situation where HE got to be with his friends. Because this boy had an IEP, my son got screwed. Sadly, I still have 5 other children I have to send through this school. My child being bullied is now enrolled in Lawrence Virtual School. But the child who bullied my son so badly? Still in school to torture your child if they are entering 7th grade at South West Jr High.

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